The Irish government will announce additional support measures for those struggling with rising costs of living and inflation on Tuesday, according to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
He stated that the package will contain both universal and targeted interventions and will not constitute a “mini-budget”. The measures will be delivered within the fiscal limits established by Budget 2023, although there is some leeway within these limits.
The funds required will come from various sources, including anticipated revenue from a windfall tax on energy companies, underspend from a business support scheme, and money derived from reserves.
The package may also necessitate a short finance Bill in the Oireachtas. At present, a series of existing cost-of-living measures are set to expire at the end of the month.
These measures include the energy credit scheme for households, a reduced VAT rate of 9% on hospitality, electricity and gas, and the Temporary Business Energy Support Scheme. Excise on diesel and petrol is also scheduled to rise.
Leo Varadkar, speaking in the Dáil, defended the government’s current record, highlighting that ministers had already implemented 25 measures to help people with the inflation crisis.
He stressed that the new support package would provide targeted support for low-income families, social welfare recipients, and pensioners, as well as some universal measures.
However, the Taoiseach acknowledged that the government cannot offer support to everyone, and anything they do must be funded by taxpayers. Varadkar assured citizens that there would not be a sudden drop in support on February 28 when the existing measures expire.
Opposition parties have criticized the government for moving too slowly to address the issue of inflation.
Labour leader Ivana Bacik expressed concern that the government would indulge in “leaking” and “kite flying” before the announcement on Tuesday, potentially to gauge the public’s reaction to potential measures. Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald said, “Just as last year, the government is moving far too slowly in responding.”