Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said that people will have to wait till the budget in the autumn before the Government provides them with more help to alleviate the cost of living crisis.
A Summer Economic Statement has been scheduled for July and there have been reports that the Government could introduce a ‘Christmas-bonus style’ package of welfare measures.
However, speaking to On The Record with Gavan Reilly An Taoiseach was clear that the Summer Economic Statement was more about updating TDs on financial matters:
“Fundamentally, the Summer Economic Statement will be the key next milestone in relation to the budget and the wider cost of living issue,” he explained.
“What do I mean by that? Well, the Summer Economic Statement will lay out what is available in terms of funds and so on and resources to help alleviate pressures on people and the objective and the aim is to do that comprehensively in the budget itself.
“Because we can’t chase it month to month.
“However, anything we do in the budget around cost of living - quite a significant amount of it - will have immediate application.”
An Taoiseach also conceded that the current international energy situation was “very, very bad for people” but predicted it could get even worse in the months ahead:
“Russia is now reducing its gas supplies via Nord Stream to the west,” he continued.
“That could create even further problems as we head into the winter and I’m very conscious that the winter could be challenging from an energy perspective and cost of living perspective.”
He also said that any measures the Government introduces this year would be “targeted, in some instance temporary measures that get us through this crisis but also measures that will dovetail with more sustainable long-term policies”.
'This will get worse'
"Developments in the last two days show that the cost of living crisis is deepening with nearly 30% of households experiencing energy poverty,” Eddie Conlon, coordinator of the Dublin march, told Newstalk.
"This will get worse as prices continue to rise.
"The breakdown of the pay talks shows the Government is not prepared to protect incomes from rising inflation.
"Urgent action is needed. Next October will be too late for many households as they slide further and further into financial distress."
While People Before Profit TD People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett urged the Government to introduce a windfall tax on the profits of energy companies:
“I would say, frankly, [there should be a windfall tax rate of] about 50%," he mused.
“I don’t see how there can be any justification for making super profits when people are being absolutely crucified and literally driven into poverty.
"And I think it is noticeably that even Boris Johnson - who you’d hardly describe as a left wing ideologue - has brought in a 25% windfall tax.”
Main image: Taoiseach Micheál Martin is seen in Brussels, Belgium in February 2022. Picture by: European Union