National shame that government has failed to tackle cost of living crisis
Labour spokesperson on Social Protection Séan Sherlock said it is shameful that so many people are going without food and meals in a ‘wealthy’ country.
Citing research published by Barnardos, Deputy Sherlock said the gaps between the have lots and have nots in Ireland is cutting away at the fabric of society.
Deputy Sherlock said:
“It is shameful that as many as 29% of parents are going without food to make sure there’s enough for their children, and that one in seven parents are regularly unable to afford a family meal.
“Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have failed to tackle the permanent cost of living crisis and its biting at hard working families up and down the country.
“This week, figures I obtained through parliamentary questions showed that the number of people apply for the exception needs payments has increased by 75%. While this payment has been a lifeline to so many people, it is not good enough that government has failed to look to address the cost of living crisis with prices rising in food, energy, rent and essential household items.
“It just goes to show, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have no real understanding of the enormous challenges faced by so many families.
“Since this time last year, wage rises have not kept pace with rising costs. Real incomes have fallen well back. We have seen real cuts to the value of pensions, and it’s a case of families having to earn €2,000 more before tax than they did just a year ago so they can buy the same basics in their weekly shop.
“Wage rises are a critical part of what is needed to resolve the current cost of living crisis for workers. But the minimum wage increase in January 2023 amounted to an effective pay cut for low wage workers in light of skyrocketing inflation.
“There’s now a clear case for the introduction of a series of discrete targeted wealth taxes to broaden the availability of funds to support those who need it most, and devise a pathway towards eradicating poverty in Ireland.
“A targeted wealth tax would be a modest tax on high rollers who have continue to reap high financial gains at a time when, as this research shows, too many people are struggling to put food on the table. The moneys recouped to the State could build a fund to provide much needed cost of living supports. People are choosing between heating and eating – this needs to be addressed.”