An increase in the electricity and working family payments and extending the fuel allowance season should be considered to help families and individuals with inflationary pressures, according to Louth Fine Gael TD Fergus O’Dowd.
Deputies Emer Higgins and Fergus O’Dowd have highlighted possible measures to help tackle the rising cost of living which should be considered ahead of a Government announcement later this week.
Speaking ahead of Dáil statements on measures to address the current cost of living crisis, Deputy O’Dowd said:
“Fine Gael made sure that the last budget was tailored to deal with the cost of living with a tax, pension and welfare package, to help everyone in our society including the squeezed middle.
“Since then, prices on everyday essentials and utility bills have risen even further with inflation hitting a high of 5% in the euro area in January, so we must respond with a targeted suite of measures to ease the burden on every household.
“These inflationary pressures are not unique to Ireland and most European countries are responding accordingly to protect incomes and jobs as they also deal with the aftermath of the pandemic.
“The upward trend in international gas prices has had an extraordinary impact on utility bills and while Government acted in the Budget to support vulnerable groups, we must go further to offset these costs.
“The Government recently approved an Electricity Costs Emergency Benefit Payment of €100 to be paid to each domestic electricity customer in the coming months. This will rise to €113 as VAT has been excluded.
“This scheme is due to cost €210 million but I believe this package should be worth more, and we need to increase this payment significantly in order to help hard-pressed householders, particularly during the winter months.
“In October, my colleague, Minister Heather Humphreys, delivered the largest ever social welfare package in over a decade worth over €552 million, in addition to a personal income tax package worth €520 million.
“The fuel allowance was increased by €5 per week to €33 to help lower income households with additional energy costs.
“It is currently paid for 28 weeks to some 370,000 households, with a budget of €292 million for the current season.
“This should now be extended to cover these households and we should also look at potentially allowing more individuals to claim it given that the volatility in energy prices look certain to continue.
“In addition, an increase in the working family payment would also help employees with children."
Subscribe or register today to discover more from DonegalLive.ie
Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.
Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.