It seems that life is more of a struggle for some families than ever before, with a report funded by the Department of Social Protection revealing that the majority of those who are reliant on Jobseeker’s Benefit do not even have enough money to enjoy a basic standard of living.
According to the report, the minimum wage and social welfare payments are not sufficient to achieve this basic standard and this means that poverty and social exclusion will only increase in Ireland. It based its analysis on the United Nations’ definition of a minimum standard of living – which includes meeting a person’s spiritual, social, psychological and physical needs.
The report looked at different types of households in finding that the benefit is inadequate. For example, it looked at families with both parents’ unemployed and found they have an inadequate income with jobseeker’s allowance alone; while in families with two parents with two children and one parent working full-time on the minimum wage, they are still not meeting the basic standard of living. Indeed even when one parent works full-time and the other part-time earning the minimum wage, the income is still inadequate.
So what can be done?
The first step for households in difficulty should be to ensure that they are getting all the benefits they are entitled to. For example, you may be able to earn additional social insurance payments such as illness benefit and carer’s benefit; or you may qualify for universal payments such as a children’s allowance.
Stretching your benefits
Whatever money you’re entitled to, you’ll need it to go as far as possible – and this will mean becoming much more frugal with your finances. Make a list of all your outgoings during a typical month (refer to a recent bank statement) and look for ways to cut back. There may be simple exclusions you can make – such as cancelling a newspaper or magazine subscription; or you may want to shop around to lower the rates you pay on essentials such as mortgages, car insurance and more.
In addition, make the most of your money when it’s time to shop by capitalising on voucher codes. Buying online is usually cheaper than buying in store and with voucher codes on items such as food, clothing and other essentials you can bring prices down even further. Check out the food and drink voucher codes; and the fashion voucher codes currently available at Moneysaver.ie for more ideas.