‘I don’t know how we are going to cope’

A Co Longford mother has claimed child benefit cuts annouced in last week’s budget may force her family below the poverty line in the lead up to Christmas.

A Co Longford mother has claimed child benefit cuts annouced in last week’s budget may force her family below the poverty line in the lead up to Christmas.

Bernie McCann, a mum of four from Drumlish, is this week counting the cost of financial adjustments announced last week by Finance Minister Michael Noonan.

Faced with a €10 cut to her monthly allowance, Bernie is also counting withdrawals made to care grants as she also occupies the role of carer to her son Micheal, who suffers from a rare blood disorder.

“I am down €38 (a month),” she said as she glossed over the finer points of last Wednesday’s budget with the Leader. “My oldest (son) was just taken off me (in terms of child benefit) as he has just turned 18 so it is a serious cut to our family.”

The changes effectively mean Bernie and other mothers in a similar position with three children entitled to State benifit will be €456 poorer by this time next year.

Yet it is the added loss of monies used to provide daily support to her son as well as to cover key medical costs that Bernie is dreading most.

“It (carer’s allowance) was taken off me a couple of times, but I fought and fought to get it back because Micheal’s is such a rare illness.

“I don’t know how we are going to manage as we have a mortgage and a loan on the car too. My husband, James’ wages wouldn’t be that high so we were depending on that.

“I have four children and okay, yes one of them is no longer entitled to child benefit, but they still all have to be looked after and fed.

“One thing is for sure, it will make Christmas difficult for us,” she added.

Such was Bernie’s nervousness leading up to last week’s €3.5bn worth of expenditure cuts and tax hikes, the north Longford homeowner simply switched off by refusing to turn on the television or listen to the radio.

“I was afraid of my life, I didn’t want to be depressed,” she admitted

“Do you know what, you can see carer’s allowance being wiped out altogether. It’s the same with the child benefit.

“When the four children were growing up, I was getting over €600. Now all I am getting is €300 odd.”

Local Cllr Martin Mulleady said more should have been done to protect families as he rounded on the Government and in particular Labour.

“They (Labour) promised to keep everything there and yet there are high earners out there who are not being affected,” he said.

“They should have found that €10 some place else, it’s as simple as that. I thought that when Labour were selling themselves before the last election they would stand up against these kind of cuts. It just shows that they are all talk.”