Notes from the dole queue: Budget-day blues

The Budget takes place (via fundsforngos.com)

The Budget takes place (via fundsforngos.com)

Next Wednesday the Grim Reaper’s scythe will sweep down over Ireland and switch off the life support on everyone’s wallet. For young and old, poor and sick, it is a nervy time. Social justice campaigners have already called upon the government to consider the suffering of society’s most vulnerable before drafting next week’s budget.

But is clear that we social welfare recipients will suffer. The government have already hinted that the dole will be cut at nine months, instead of twelve. This thankfully doesn’t affect me- if I’m still on the dole in five months I will give myself a severe talking to and book a plane outta here. Others however have ties to Ireland and cannot leave.

You may remember in my previous column that I mentioned that the money ain’t all that bad. And for me, it isn’t. I’m living at home. I give money to my mother for housekeeping and the rest is mine. And so, I would seem the perfect advertisement for those who say the dole should be cut.

And yet, I know I’m lucky. I have a mother willing to let me live with her again and who hasn’t turned the house into a B&B or a boarding house for new immigrants. I don’t have a mortgage, or a child, or any financial obligations. I live in the middle of a town which itself is a centre point of the main N20 Cork to Limerick road. If I have to go to Limerick, I can get a bus.

Not that, as I have mentioned before, been sitting on my bum watching telly. Aside from sending out CVs, I have been beavering away to make myself more employable.

If you did have any of the above or you lived in the wilds of Leitrim or somewhere, then €188 is not a lot of money. (I don’t get that much, being under 24). For anyone with a loan or rental obligations, it must be hard to exist.

Social welfare fraud is something that should be tackled. We all know families where generations have never had a job and haven’t tried all that hard either. But hard cases make bad law, and for this minority, should all those who have genuinely found themselves on hard times suffer?

For all the demonization that unemployed receive in the media, there is one important factor to recall- there are very few jobs.

Spoilt brats who are armed with a couple of college degrees should lower their expectations and get a job in a shop or a pub? If you live outside the major city, shops and pubs are shutting their doors at an alarming rate. Those without bar experience, such as myself, should forget about even handing in a CV to a pub.

I graduated last week. Out of a class of sixteen, one of us has a full-time job in our field. Talking to some friends of mine, I realised we are all in the same boat, whether it is in Wexford, Tipperary or Cork. Others have given up on the industry for the moment and have taken jobs elsewhere. Others have given up on Ireland full-stop.

This isn’t intended to come off as a moan or a whine. I know I’m lucky that I don’t live in Greece or even the UK or the US, where visible and invisible barriers for someone of my background would have sprung up from infancy. I want people to understand the reality. I want anyone who believes the unemployed are the problem to take a look at the real cause.

Next Wednesday, I hope Michael Noonan cuts the salaries and bonuses of his own. I hope he takes the brave decisions not to leave single mothers, carers and the disabled struggling to eat or heat their homes. I hope he doesn’t add further misery on motorists trying to navigate our crumbling roads that they have paid tax for. I hope he considers schools which can’t even afford to repair their boilers, leaving young children to wear their coats in the classroom and inhale mould into their growing lungs. I hope he remembers the overworked Gardaí and health workers trying to compensate for stretched resources. I think I am hoping in vain.

The Sean Fitzpatricks, the Michael Fingletons, the Bertie Aherns and the Brian Cowens. The people who sold mine and your futures down the swanny ever before we left school. The people responsible for your friends emigrating, for your parents losing their jobs, for your favourite cafe closing down.

These are the real spongers.

*Lead image via Wikimedia Commons

Ahead of Budget 2013 on December 5, The Daily Shift’s Roisin Peddle takes a look at what it might mean for the unemployed of Ireland… 

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