Government to ‘do more’ to help people struggling with spiralling cost of living

Varadkar calls on employers to give pay increases to workers if they can afford them

Labour Party leader Alan Kelly: he  said the credit on electrical bills was ‘a joke’, ‘tokenistic’ and ‘actually insulting’

Labour Party leader Alan Kelly: he said the credit on electrical bills was ‘a joke’, ‘tokenistic’ and ‘actually insulting’

 

The Government has said it will “do more” to help people struggling with the spiralling cost of living after Ministers were accused of offering “meagre” supports to families.

Opposition leaders hit out at the Taoiseach in the Dáil on Tuesday, and accused him of “not living in the real world” with the annual rate of inflation hitting a 20-year high.

On Tuesday the Cabinet approved plans which would see all householders in the State get €100 off their electricity bills by the end of March.

Labour Party leader Alan Kelly said the credit on electrical bills was “a joke”, “tokenistic” and “actually insulting”.

A Government spokesman said on Tuesday evening that the Cabinet would consider further measures beyond the electricity credit in the coming months. “It is being kept under review, and more measures will be taken.”

Last October the European Commission suggested a number of other measures that governments could take to help households struggling with rising energy costs. These included authorising temporary deferrals of bill payments, putting in place safeguards to avoid disconnections from the grid and providing temporary and targeted reductions in taxation rates for vulnerable households.

The Government spokesman said that the EU recommendations would be taken into consideration and that the issue was under review.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin also said that the Government would do more to help struggling citizens.

Hammered

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said the cost of living was “unbearable”, while urgency from the Government was “sorely absent”.

Speaking during Leaders’ Questions, Ms McDonald said people were being “hammered” by “non-stop price hikes in every area”. It was time for the Government to “do its job” and to protect workers and families from “being fleeced”.

She said: “The €100 euro credit for energy bills comes very late.”

Mr Kelly said higher prices were also coming through in food bills, with the price of bread, milk and butter gone up by 10 per cent to 30 per cent.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar called on employers to give pay increases to workers where they could afford it.

He said “a lot of people are struggling with those rising bills, particularly energy bills, petrol, diesel, electricity. So what we’re doing is action in a number of areas...There are increases in pay – minimum wage just went up by 3 per cent.

“Most people in most workplaces, not all, but most in most workplaces will get a pay increase this year, and that will help. And where employers can afford pay increases they should do them, and the Government certainly is in relation to the public sector pay.”

Consumers

Meanwhile, a row has broken out between the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) and Lidl after the supermarket announced plans to sell large chickens for just under €3.50 each.

While some consumers might welcome the idea of a 1.9kg chicken selling for €3.49, the farming organisation called the move “grossly irresponsible” and expressed alarm that other supermarkets would seek to match the Lidl move by selling heavily discounted poultry of their own.

In response to the criticism, a spokeswoman for Lidl said the cut price chickens were part of a short-term promotion, and would have no impact on the prices paid to its suppliers. “Lidl bears the costs of all promotional items, and the supplier receives the contracted price,” she said.