When you’re not queuing for Santa’s Grotto… December 10, 2012Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy.
If you want an indication as to how the recession is really beginning to bare its teeth you could do worse than have visited the Christmas Fair held in the local community centre where I live. Numbers of stalls were down markedly on last year, but so were numbers of those attending. There were no queues for Santa’s grotto, plenty of places for the dinner were available. And talking to the people at stalls there was considerably less interest than last year, and last year less than the year before or the year before that again.
It wasn’t that it had collapsed, and kudos to the organisers, but it was clear that something is changing.
But how could it be otherwise. If you went there you’d be spending, if you had children, at a minimum €2.5 for the pleasure of seeing Santa Claus. Get a raffle ticket for the local NS, the local creche and the community centre itself and you’d easily have gone through a twenty euro bill. That’s before you’d bought anything at the stalls. A cup cake, a small piece of jewellery – even at a few euro, or whatever and suddenly the costs spike upwards again. And the dinner – €8.50/€3.50 for children.
Last week we saw cuts in expenditure, part of a €3.5bn ‘adjustment’. As the Campaign for Labour Policies itself put it, a couple with an income of €25k will see a drop of 1.1 per cent. Those on €175,000 will see a cut of .09 per cent. Respite care cuts, benefits cuts, cuts in back to education allowances, child benefit cuts, all those myriad small cuts. But that was just this years cuts – but they don’t operate in a vacuum. They follow on from budgets since 2009 which have seen social expenditure cut again and again.
Unemployment now at 14.5 per cent or so. Tax increases. Wages static or falling.
That’s why the numbers at the Fair are declining. I presume there will be one next year, but then next year we’re slated to see a further €3.1 billion at Budget 2014 and another €2 billion in 2015 (and that’s if things go ‘well’). I genuinely wonder if there’ll be much point in holding a Fair in two or three years time.
Again, the organisers are in no sense at fault. But they can only deliver so much. If there’s no one there to interact with what they provide this too will fade away.
It puts a whole different spin on phrases like ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ (copyright AIB) and ‘End in sight’ (Irish Daily Star).