Budget 2023 must be brought forward to combat cost of living crisis
Labour finance spokesperson Ged Nash has today (Wednesday, 13th April) demanded that government brings forward Budget 2023 in light of the current cost of living crisis.
As government announces more measures to supposedly ease the financial burden on struggling households, Deputy Nash said the piecemeal proposals announced today will not meaningfully improve the financial circumstances of those who need the most help.
Deputy Nash said:
“The measures announced by government today represents another example of government kicking to touch on the cost of living issue.
“The reality is we have an economic and social crisis in Ireland today. People’s wages are not covering their costs. Such is the severity of the drop in living standards felt by those on low and modest incomes that the only solution is to either introduce a comprehensive emergency budget now or bring forward October’s budget.
“Labour is prepared to co-operate with the government to amend the planned legislative and Dáil business programme if a commitment is made to introduce a more comprehensive set of measures as part of an emergency budget or if they agree to bring the annual budgetary timetable forward from October.
“People need a break from this continuous assault on their household budgets. Today was yet another missed opportunity to introduce a range of targeted measures that would actually make peoples incomes and wages go further.
“For example, we need to see adjustments made to the VAT on petrol and diesel, not just gas and electricity bills. The reality is that energy and petrol costs rose by 30% over the last year and it’s simply unsustainable. It is driving people into poverty and social isolation.
“The fact that leeway to reduce VAT on home heating oil is not available will come as a blow especially to those who don’t have gas as an option. These are often older citizens who live in rural areas with all the evidence already pointing to the fact that this cohort of citizens are particularly adversely affected by the rising cost of living.
“In contrast it is interesting to note that aviation fuel continues to attract a zero-rating for VAT while no flexibility has been given to those who have to have to heat their homes with oil. This is an obvious anomaly and injustice the effect of which will be felt by far too many.
“The ESRI and the Central Bank recently said that additional cost of living measures must be properly targeted at those who need them most. These measures taken in the round do not pass that test.
“More targeted measures are needed to lower the cost of home heating and that’s why the government should have taken an additional 150,000 lower income households into the fuel allowance scheme. The reality is that only one-third of older households currently receive the fuel allowance.
“The measures announced today are depressing in every sense. They will not sufficiently protect the most vulnerable in our communities.
“Given the current economic circumstances, we need an emergency budget or for October’s budget to be brought forward.
“Fianna Fáil has experience of this from the last time we experienced such economic pain. They had no compunction in bringing in more than one swingeing budget a year to cut public spending when the economy was in crisis. People are in crisis now and we need to need to see the same urgency to protect living standards.
“The pain people are feeling in their pockets now must be addressed in the same fashion. Standards of living are falling and will continue to fall this year.
“Wage growth is not keeping pace with the massive rise in the price of everyday essentials. Ireland needs a pay rise, but Ireland also needs a government that works for them. The government has the policy levers at their disposal if they choose to use them through a comprehensive budget initiative. Labour will support the process if they decide to go down that road.”