Go big or go home on the mini-budget
• Taoiseach confirms to Labour Party that cost-of-living measures will be made public next Tuesday
• The Dáil must be given time to debate what is proposed
In Leaders’ Questions today (Wednesday, 15th February), Labour Leader Ivana Bacik TD asked the Taoiseach to end the endless kite-flying of cost-of-living measures, and to give certainty to struggling families.
Deputy Bacik said:
“As often we do, we are already seeing kites being flown by government TDs who are testing the water with the public to see which cost-of-living proposals are politically expedient, and which are not. No doubt, in coming days, we will see a drip-feed of leaks from the parliamentary party meetings of government parties.
“It is an insult to households across Ireland who are powerless to plan for the future – unable to plan for next month, let alone next year. Despite his condemnation of the practice in the chamber the afternoon, even the Taoiseach has engaged in this sort of kite-flying, mooting his proposed new income tax rate of 30%. This is the height of disrespect to households who are struggling to make ends meet, and who are desperately trying to balance their books for the year. Enough is enough. We need clarity now.“Right across the country, people are struggling. I have heard from constituents who are paying as much as €1,700 for just 5 weeks of heating. The sorts of untargeted measures we have already seen barely make a dent in people’s bills. I agree with Social Justice Ireland’s condemnation of the government’s overreliance on one-off, untargeted payments. €1.2 billion has already been allocated for untargeted energy support payments. As my colleague Ged Nash TD has said, that money could have been much better spent on targeted reliefs, the increase of child benefit, and of core social welfare rates.
“In response, the Taoiseach revealed to me that the measures would be announced next Tuesday. While it is welcome to receive that confirmation, families need to know when the new measures will be implemented. Moreover, the Taoiseach insisted that what will be announced will not amount to a mini-budget. If it looks like a rose and smells like a rose, it’s a mini-budget. A finance bill does constitute a mini-budget. With the Finance Minister saying that these will be the last cost-of-living measures which will be announced before Budget 2024, Cabinet must go big or go home. There can be no half-measures.”