Action not words needed to fix cost of living crisis

03 February 2022
  • Where is the VAT cut for energy bills?
  • Youth Travel Card still nonexistent
  • Work must pay – inflation busting wage increases needed

Labour Party spokesperson on Finance, Ged Nash has today sharply criticised the Taoiseach and the Tanaiste for failing to get to grips with the runaway cost of living.

Deputy Ged Nash said:

“The fact that the cost of living crisis is only now being discussed by clearly panicked Fianna Fail and Fine Gael politicians at their parliamentary party meetings speaks volumes and shows how out of touch they really are. In all reality, no amount of hot air and faux outrage at parliamentary party meetings will help heat people’s homes or put food on the table.

“Last week, the Taoiseach and the Tanaiste voted down Labour Party proposals to help working families with VAT cuts to energy bills, to introduce a carbon credit to help working families pay for heating and a three-year rent freeze; arguing that nothing could be done. However, this week we are expected to believe everything is on the table. People need real action not hopeful words to get to grips with the runaway cost of living once and for all.

“Yesterday’s exchequer returns show another spectacular VAT take, up €400million on the comparable month of January 2020 before the pandemic hit. The Government is clearing enjoying its own pandemic bonus from rising prices. The choice must be made now to redistribute this windfall – much of which comes from VAT on electricity and gas bills – to the households that need it most.

“Indeed we know that our young people have paid a huge price socially and economically throughout the pandemic. The Youth Travel Card that was tacked on at the last minute to this year’s budget in response to Labour’s costed proposals for free youth public transport remains a work of fiction. All the data shows that transport affordability and access remains a huge issue in terms of the cost of living, as well as having a crucial role to play in climate action and the regeneration of our towns and villages. Yet, government remains either unable or unwilling to deliver.

“At the crux of the crisis is that wage growth is not keeping pace with the massive rise in the price of the everyday essentials. This is impacting low paid workers disproportionately, but all working people are feeling it in their pockets. The recommended 5% increase in the Living Wage in Q4 of 2021 must be acted on and delivered for by employers of low paid workers. The reality is that average weekly wages in the hospitality sector are almost 40% below the Living Wage, with average wages in arts, entertainment and leisure more than 11% under. This masks the fact that in both sectors, there are very large numbers dependent on the national minimum wage.

“2022 must be the year of inflation busting pay increases for all workers in Ireland and the year when we see meaningful action on the enhancement of our collective bargaining coverage. That is the only way we can guarantee working people can get a fairer share.”

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