It seems exceedingly strange that there's a Budget going on amidst everything going on at the moment.
Usually, the Budget exists to remind us of the stark reality that our government doesn't work for us, rather the other way around. Now, it's an abstraction to the stark reality that a global pandemic has a vice-like grip on the throat of societies across the globe.
But, let's stick to Ireland for the moment.
Today, Finance Minister Paschal Donohue and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath announced #Budget2021, which is supposedly one of the most important budgets of our lifetimes. Considering the majority of us have already lived through a life-altering recession, this is just an every decade or so occurrence.
But, we digress, here are the main takeaways from #Budget2021 for all the young folks out there:
Job losses are expected to hit mostly young people
Job losses were to be expected, given the unprecedented climate that we're currently living in.
According to Minister Donohue, 340,000 jobs are expected to be lost. Unfortunately, most of those job losses are anticipated to effect young people mostly.
Disaffected young people who can't find job they're qualified for in Ireland are expected to utilise the tried-and-tested formula of emigrating.
Mental health services are being funded (somewhat)
There's an acute awareness from all angles that mental health services in Ireland are sub-standard.
This budget promises to invest €38 million into mental health services. It's something, although it's far from enough to cater for the hoards of people that require counselling services and emergency supports.
Mental health (and Irish health services in general) are painfully underfunded at the best of times. This year's Budget will see an extra €4 billion will be made available for health services. This will include the provision for 321 beds being made available by the end of 2021.
Are we going to be able to afford gaffs? Probably not
Around budgets and elections, politicians all make the right noises, particularly around important issues. Housing is of paramount importance to the people of Ireland, with over 10,000 people considered homeless by the State.
In today's Budget, €5.2 billion is being pumped into the Department of Housing, which is a near €800 million increase from last year. Also, €500m will be made available for capital expenditure on housing for 9,500 new social housing units in 2021.
In the short-term, €110 million will be used for affordable rents and housing in order to tackle homelessness.
A €50 million hardship fund for students
A €50m one-off hardship fund is being set up under #Budget2021 to cater to full-time third level students who have been financially hit by the circumstances of last few weeks. Will mean universal payments of approx €250pp, either through SUSI grant or refund from €3k reg fee
— Gavan Reilly (@gavreilly) October 13, 2020
Universal payments of around €250 per student will be paid out to students through either SUSI or a registration fund.
However, the universal payments mean that people who have been adversely affected by the pandemic will receive the same amount as students who have easily navigated the circumstances.
COVID recovery is paramount
It's hardly a shock that the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent recovery dominated the budget this year. Paschal Donohue even concluded his speech with a tribute to the heroes and essential workers during the pandemic.
From the arts industry to basic taxation, everything surrounding the budget is about getting the country back on track.
It's difficult to know how it will translate into everyday life and everyday people. The most important thing should be ensuring that the people that live in Ireland are safe and secure whilst the pandemic is ongoing and that they can return to normalcy in its aftermath.
Although that was preached during Paschal Donohue's budget announcement, there was also emphasis on Corporation Tax, which has the propensity to draw the ire of the everyday person.
One thing's for sure, it's still exceedingly difficult succeed as a young person in Ireland.