Time for a radical rethink of public services in light of cost of living
Labour leader Alan Kelly has called for a rethink of the current approach to public services in light of the increased cost of living in Ireland. With CSO figures confirming prices rising by 5.3% in the year to November, Deputy Kelly said inflation has totally outstripped increases in wages and ordinary hard working people are barely making ends meet.
Deputy Kelly said:
“The cost of living has been a dominant issue since the Dáil returned and I’ve flagged the cost of electricity and gas many times. Yet this government yet they have not taken a single step to help people who are feeling it in their pockets. This year’s budget should have been a turning point but instead it was another wasted opportunity. Prices are rising faster than incomes so people will have less to spend on everyday essentials. Electricity and gas suppliers have already implemented multiple price increases that will cost households over €400 next year in higher bills.
“The pandemic has shown what can be achieved when we mobilise the state. We now know what the State can do when we really have to act. To tackle the exorbitant rise in the cost of living, we need to see the government take a serious look at how public services are being provided.
“Transport has increased by 16.2% with commuters paying a heavy price. The government needs to take real action to address this – including introducing its much trumpeted youth travel card which we haven’t heard about since the confetti budget in October.
“Every section of society is feeling this but renters are particularly caught. Many are paying more than half their wages to rent with no hope of saving for a deposit and getting on the property ladder. We have repeatedly called for a rent freeze and the government needs to act on this. The HAP limits have not been revised since 2016 despite the fact that rents have increased exponentially since then and the government need to address this to protect people.
“Workers on low pay and minimum wage are hugely impacted and there has barely been an acknowledgement of the crisis they face by government. The Living Wage of €12.90 is even further away for too many people. All employers must reflect today on whether they are paying their own workers a living income that can enable them to live in this economy. It is important that anyone who works, can work with the knowledge that they can budget to pay their rent, heat their home, and pay for groceries. Unfortunately we know that too many people are just getting by.
“In a fair society, everyone who works should be able to make ends meet, and have some savings left over. This is not the Ireland we have right now. We need the State to act to tackle the increased cost of living.”