Laura Smith breaks down Budget 2017.

Scrimping to save those last pennies? Student budgeting going well, yeah? Budget 2017 has hit the ground running. So how does it affect us as students? Here’s a review on all the good, bad and downright ugly information to keep you updated in the budget game.


Let’s start with the ugly truth that cigarettes will go up by 50 cent. Steep I know, I know. It will now cost €11 for a pack of twenty cigarettes. Can anyone recall the time when a pack of twenty cigarettes cost €8? Those days are long gone. Word of advice for smokers…QUIT NOW. I know it’s a pain when you’re at prinks and then the next thing everyone is pulling out a cigarette. But, is smoking really worth the health hazard and the expense? Just maybe give it a miss and try putting that money elsewhere like books, clothes and essentials for college, because are cigarettes really worth it at that price?


I will quickly turn to the positive changes and say that to any student heading into the areas of nursing, teaching or the guards, it’s a wahey! The government have announced 4,500 additional public servants will be hired in these areas, with 2,400 new teaching posts. 800 new Gardaí will be hired in 2017. Due to previous cutbacks in the public service sector, this is promising news.


All weekly social welfare payments, including the disability and carer’s allowance, will rise by €5 from March, with only a €2.70 increase for those under 26 years of age. An 85% Christmas bonus will also be received by social welfare recipients in 2016. Due the slash in social welfare payments in recent years, it is good to see increases in this area. Also, I suppose this topic is will come to us at some stage but Irish pensions will gain an extra €5 weekly.


The student housing crisis may see some light at the end of the tunnel as measures are taken to address the problems in the rental sector. One scheme should help students, especially those forking out a fortune for accommodation in the Dublin region. Landlords will get an extra 5% in mortgage interest relief, while homeowners can rent a room out for €14k a year without paying tax. Hopefully this initiative will prevent students from having to fork out big money to access accommodation.


Staying on the topic of students, the third-level sector will receive an extra €36.5m in funding for 2017, as announced by Education Minister Richard Bruton. This extra investment will go towards increased demand, research and targeted funding for skills, apprenticeships and access programmes. Not too bad for us students. Although sadly at a primary and post-primary level, there will be no increase in grants available to them. Schools on both levels will still have to rely on voluntary contributions.


Taxes this and taxes that. It may be of little interest to some, but for new graduates starting out, it could make all the difference. 0.5% of universal social charge has been chopped off the three lowest rates.

 

That’s the roundup for Budget 2017! So will this have a positive or negative impact on university students and the youth? This budget brings a few positives for students with more money being invested in third-level education. The encouragement of homeowners to rent a room to students could ease the housing crisis. All and all it seems to be a fair budget for university students with no increase in college fees, and an attempt to aid the housing crisis.