Too many people just getting by – time for emergency measures
Labour leader Ivana Bacik said the government must take its head out of the sand and implement an emergency budget to help working people who are really struggling. With one third of people just getting by, Deputy Bacik said it is unfair and unrealistic to expect people to wait until October for inflation busting measures.
Deputy Bacik said:
“Despite doing everything ‘right’, working hard, cutting back on discretionary spending, working people are really struggling. An unexpected trip to the doctor, childcare provision or birthday party means people are going hungry to keep the lights on. The cost of living crisis, compounded by Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, is leaving less and less money in people’s pockets.
“There are measures government can take to help working people. During Covid we saw the power of the State to protect people and I am reiterating Labour’s call for an emergency budget to help people’s money go further.
“The ESRI recently showed that the rising cost of energy must be addressed and that increased targeted support is needed. The income eligibility threshold for the fuel allowance is simply too low, and far too many hard pressed working households don’t qualify. It must be increased to help those who need it most. Labour is also calling for a second band of eligibility, which would pay the allowance at a half rate, to assist people who are pinned to their collar.
“In a wealthy economy, people are right to expect more. We need government to step up for working parents and move to providing a public childcare system. In addition to protecting households against the increased cost of living, it would ensure women’s participation in the workplace can continue and grow. We need to take the pressure off parents, but we also need to pave the way to support aspiring parents. The time for change is now. Labour’s alternative budget estimated that a pilot public scheme would cost €60 million in the first year. Government has the power to make a move and take the pressure off of working parents.
“The reality is we have an economic and social crisis in Ireland today. Wages are not covering costs. People need a break from the continuous assault on their household budgets. The people are feeling the pain in their pockets today and this must be addressed, otherwise standards of living 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.
“The news this morning is bleak. House prices continue to rise, parents are buying their children open toed sandals to get longer out of them, calls for free legal advice is up. What will it take for government to work for people?”