Cost-of-living measures a case of too little, too late
- Child Benefit payment delayed until June is completely inexplicable says Nash
Labour finance spokesperson has today (Tuesday, 21st February) sharply criticised the Government for failing to get to grips with the cost of living crisis and said the cost of living package is too little too late for hard pressed people and families.
Deputy Nash said:
“Today’s announcement by the government is an admission they got the Budget wrong. They underestimated the cost-of-living crisis and now they’re trying to stick a plaster on an open wound. If government’s much-trumpeted €11bn budget package was working, then why is extra once-off payments needed? Today is a formal recognition that Budget 2023 didn’t work.
“The self-congratulatory mode of this government needs to stop. You can’t eat good GDP and exchequer figures. It’s what we do with taxpayers’ hard-earned money that matters and the short-term measures announced today, do not go far enough. The fact the extra Child Benefit payment is being delayed until June while other payments are paid in April is completely inexplicable.
“It is hard to be proud of a society that tolerates a million citizens below the poverty line and where over one if five or every person with a job is officially low-paid. There is nothing in these measures for the low paid. We recommended an increase in the minimum wage from €11.30 to €12. With inflation, the incomes of those on the minimum wage are falling in real terms and none of these measures address that issue; of the €1.25bn in today’s package, only €400m goes to people on social welfare.
“We need real and long-lasting measures that increases the income of low paid workers and those on social welfare on an ongoing basis. This package is as targeted as a Darwin Nunez shot from outside the box. Who dreamed up the idea that a €200 social welfare bonus was better than an additional full rate weekly payment, or that a child benefit payment of €100 beats the €140 standard monthly payment? This is an insult to those on social welfare. Ministers should publish the material that informed their decisions otherwise we can conclude this is a political package, and not one based on robust public policy.
“Labour would have approved a full double-payment of social welfare as well as a full extra month of Child Benefit. We would have added €8 per week to all social welfare payments, to match inflation. We wanted additional support for lone parents and called for the extension of the Fuel Allowance to recipients of the Working Family Payment – the government hasn’t acted on that issue and again failed to address the cost-of-living crisis among the lower paid.
“20% of the package involves another extension to the VAT rate cut for the hospitality sector. Labour has been consistent in its criticism of this measure – worth almost €250million – to the end of August. Our view is there should be no cash transfers to any business sector without conditions. Conditions on job retention, on decent pay and on decent working conditions. The government has ruled out another energy credit but stayed silent on the details of the proposed windfall tax on the extraordinary profits of energy companies. The only climate measures announced today is increasing petrol prices – again, it’s all stick and no carrot. We recommended a €9 a month public transport ticket but there’s nothing for bus and rail commuters in this announcement.”