Government barely tinkering around the edges – Cost of living supports need to match reality

10 December 2021

• Package of measures needed not piecemeal approach
• Labour proposed targeted carbon tax credit
• Three year rent freeze desperately needed

Labour finance spokesperson Ged Nash has called on government to do more to tackle the soaring increase in the cost of living. Responding to the once-off €100 electricity credit proposed by government, Deputy Nash said with households expecting over €400 more next year in higher bills, more needs to be done to protect those who need it most.

Deputy Nash said:

“The Labour Party has consistently raised the issue of the increase cost of living and the cost of electricity and gas in particular. In an economy where inflation has totally outstripped wage growth, everyone is feeling it in their pockets. However, we’ve called on government to help those who need it most – those on fixed incomes – and to ensure that the support will actually match the increase in the cost of living.

“Prices are rising faster than incomes so people will have less to spend on everyday essentials, with those in lower-income households paying proportionally more on their bills. Electricity and gas suppliers have already implemented multiple price increases that will cost households over €400 next year in higher bills.

“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 our alternative budget, Labour called for a new carbon tax credit, worth €200 a year for a household with incomes below €50,000 and a low energy rating. This would have been a real signal from this government that they really get the struggles of decent hardworking families who slog in the everyday economy and that you’re on their side. Instead of opting for a targeted measure like this, we are seeing a confetti approach. Government should be introducing a suite of targeted measures to tackle the cost of living including a three year rent freeze and cuts to public transport costs.

“The pandemic has exposed some stark and uncomfortable truths about our society, our economy and our environment. We have a two-tier economy of extremes. The reality of low pay and job insecurity experienced by far too many is being further exaggerated by current inflation rates. Nobody who works for a living should have to make a call between food and bills. That is the reality for some working families this winter. Government simply must do more.”

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