Funny enough, I had a dream last night that myself and Irishmammy were protesting cuts to child benefit and were each given a chance to talk to Brian Cowen after which we each agreed that he was a lovely man and it was a shame about his shit policies and grotesque incompetence at running the country.
I woke up this morning and checked my facebook only to find this latest news from PACUB (parents against child unfriendly budget) Apparently, a member of the ESRI (Economic and Social Research Institute) had made a comment that child benefit (which our lovely government has decided to cut by 20% as well as doing away with the Early Childcare Supplement) was "an incredible waste of money"
The girls at PACUB were also kind enough to provide this person's email. I can only imagine the number of letters she received on the issue...
Here, for anyone interested, is mine:
Dear Ms. Kearney,
As a stay at home mother of two young children, I am disgusted by your comment that child benefit is an "incredible waste of money."
Over the past 8 months, my family's monthly income has been hit time and again, first by the slashing of the ECS and secondly by the hiking of the pension levies. We are not rich by any stretch of the imagination. With a monthly income in the area of (as if I'd put that in my blog!), by the time we remove our rent and bills, without child benefit and the ECS we are left with approximately €500 to cover such luxuries as food for ourselves and our children.
The proposed 20% cut to CB and the 2010 slashing of the ECS will mean a further 17.7% loss of income to my family.
Child benefit has acted as a great cushion to our family. It allowed me to take my oldest daughter to the gp when she was ten months of age and contracted measles and again when she was 15 months and contracted scarlet fever. My second baby came down with what appeared to be measles at ten weeks of age. Again, thanks to child benefit we were able to take her to the doctor. When I was heavily pregnant and and in need of emergency dental work, it enabled me to seek out the services of a dentist.
Child benefit and the ECS help to make up for the income lost by our decision to raise our children ourselves.
It offers us security in the winter months when the cost of heating is higher. It helps cushion the blow when it comes time to pay the car tax and car insurance on a vehicle we may no longer be able to afford once the Carbon Tax comes into play. It helps to cover the cost of shoes and clothing for two quickly growing girls and one day will pay for things like school fees and uniform costs. It is vital when unexpected expenses arise.
In almost every study looking at national schemes in EU countries which contribute to the growth, development and education of children, Ireland is consistently ranked in the bottom rung, if not dead last. We have the lowest number of obstetricians per population, our maternity hospitals are bursting at the seams and dangerously understaffed, we offer no paid paternity leave and our maternity pay ranks amongst the lowest in Europe. Even England, who are regularly cited as the worst EU country in which to raise a child have the decency to offer a National Health Service which takes the financial burden of doctor visits off of struggling families.
Our breastfeeding rates are abysmal, as is the support offered to breastfeeding mothers who often have to pay for the services of private lactation consultants or else shell out the ever increasing cost of a gp visit to help them out in the early days. The state of our schools can only be described as criminal and the current and proposed cuts to education are doing nothing at all to rectify the situation. Instead, they are making an already awful situation even worse. The near complete lack of state subsidized childcare is ridiculous and the proposed year of government funded "playschool" is a joke as most playschools cannot afford to take the loss this program would force on them and offers NO BENEFIT WHATSOEVER to parents like myself who are taking care of their children themselves.
Child benefit is one of the few things this country has done right by it's children and you call this a "Waste of Money?"
The proposed cuts to Child Benefit combined with the 2010 scrapping of the ECS will only further Ireland's race to the bottom when it comes to the education of and provision for, our Nation's children.
I am ashamed to live in a country where the bailing out of banks and the obscene pay offs of disgraced public officials is seen as necessary and our children's well being an "incredible waste of money."