The Government should be protecting people with cost-of-living cash payments, social welfare increases and the suspension of VAT on fuel, according to Sinn Féin.
This afternoon, Bord Gáis Energy announced ‘unprecedented’ price rises, with other energy companies expected to follow suit.
The increases come after energy companies hiked their prices more than 35 times in total last year.
Price comparison site Bonkers said they will add around €350 to the average household’s bills – after previous increases added around €540.
On The Hard Shoulder this evening, Sinn Féin finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty said there will be families all over the country “pulling out the calculator tonight wondering what is going to give”.
“It is really, really essential that there is a package of supports,” he said.
“By reducing VAT, by cost-of-living cash payments targeted at those who are on low and middle incomes; by a social welfare package – it needs to be increased.
“People need to be protected. Otherwise, we are going to have more children and more families falling into poverty and that isn’t acceptable in my view, so we need to see more from Government.
“I recognise we can’t insulate everybody from these types of price increases, but we need to give some comfort.”
Deputy Doherty said there are RERE ways Government should look to ease the burde.
- Getting EU permission to temporarily suspend VAT on home heating oil and electricity
- Handing a €200 cash cost of living cash payment to everyone earning below €30,000 and a €100 for incomes between €30,000 and €60,000.
- Working towards a €10 increase in social welfare.
- Extending the fuel allowance to 50,000 more families and making it available for two weeks longer.
He said the measures would cost somewhere in the region of €1.3bn in a year, noting that around €400m could be clawed back through a 3% solidarity tax on incomes above €140,000 and higher than expected VAT receipts.
The rest, he said would be paid for through increased borrowing.
“That is what needs to happen at a time of huge, huge pressure on families and workers,” he said.
“The alternative to that is to allow families to go without heat. To allow families to go without food on the table and unfortunately some people are in that situation – not everybody, that is why it needs to be targeted and that is why government needs to respond.
“We can’t insulate everybody from all of these price pressures but we have to do our best and the most we can to actually protect people from these price increases.”
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