On 28 January 1976 Minister for Finance Richie Ryan introduced the final budget of the Fine Gael/Labour coalition. Described as the toughest budget since the Second World War, it increased VAT in a number of areas.
‘7 Days’ investigates how the O’Keefe family who live on £23.51 per week will be affected by the budget. Father of three Pat O’Keefe is currently unemployed and receives unemployment assistance of £20.85 a week. The family obtains a further £10.25 a month in children's allowances.
Pat’s wife Ann is responsible for balancing the family’s weekly budget. Every Thursday she does the weekly supermarket shop and must work out the cheapest way of feeding her family. Eggs are too expensive to buy on her budget and she has noticed the price of baby food increasing every week.
People can’t survive on what they are given. They’d want to be just eating bread for the week and that’s it.
Once Ann has paid for the TV rental and groceries, she must also cover the mortgage, life insurance, electricity, gas, piped TV rental, newspapers, butchers, cigarettes, milk and baby food. When ground rent and fire insurance are also accounted for, the weekly expenses come to a total of £35.47. This gives the O’Keefes a weekly deficit of £11.96. This will continue to happen unless there is more employment.
The latest budget won’t hearten families like the O’Keefes. With a net gain of £1.72 their weekly deficit has been reduced to £10.24. So on the surface they have benefited from the budget. However inflation has increased by 15% since the last budget so in real terms the money this family has to spend every week is down by a pound.
A ‘7 Days’ report by Nicholas Coffey broadcast on 28 January 1976.