Sinn Féin has called for social welfare recipients to get a 'Spring bonus' to help with the cost of living.
If passed, the proposal would see pensioners, people with disabilities, carers and lone parents receive a once-off higher payment, although the party has not indicated an exact amount.
The motion will be debated in the Dáil on Tuesday.
Sinn Féin's finance spokesperson, Pearse Doherty, says the time for action is now, and sees the proposal as just one of several necessary additional measures to "alleviate the burden on those bearing the brunt of the cost of living crisis".
He said: "Households are struggling with record energy bills, rising food costs and increased mortgage repayments.
"Once again, the government has been too slow to act."
'Failed to protect people'
According to Deputy Doherty, Minister for Finance Michael McGrath and Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe have "failed to protect people" who are on lower incomes from inflation and cost of living pressures.
"Social welfare rates were cut in real terms given the current rates of inflation", he said.
"Almost 595,000 people, 11.6%, in this state now live on incomes below the poverty line, while the latest Barnardos report shows that food poverty is worsening with 10% of parents forced to use food banks in 2022 and 29% reported skipping meals to ensure their children could eat.
There was a double payment of the childcare allowance and a one off €500 payment to carers and individuals with a disability before Christmas."Average gas bills have gone up by around 140% over the past two years, while the average electricity bill has increased by around 115%. The ESRI estimates households in energy poverty have increased to 29%; a record high. "That is why we believe a ‘Spring Bonus’ is necessary for those on working age social protection payments, along with additional measures, needed for those bearing the brunt of this crisis.”
Increases in 2023
This year there is a €12 increase in the maximum rate of all core weekly payments — the largest increase in years — which is benefits over 1.5 million people.
The targeted measures that came into effect on January 1st included a significant expansion of the fuel allowance scheme and a €40 increase to the threshold for those eligible for the Working Family Payment.
Those with disabilities now earn an extra €25 per week without it affecting their payment.
The Domiciliary Care Allowance was increased by €20.50 per month.
Minister Humphreys told Newstalk that this plan was about "putting money back in people's pockets".
She said that the once-off payments given to people before Christmas coupled with energy credits and the "across the board increases" will see most people become "about 10% better off".
Main image shows Sinn Féin spokesperson on Finance, Pearse Doherty TD, speaking to media at Leinster House. Picture by: Leah Farrell/Rollingnews.ie