Thursday, 19 January 2023
Department of Public Expenditure and Reform
155. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the further measures his Department is considering in dealing with crippling rising interest rates, which are greatly affecting thousands of households across the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1344/23]
Budget 2023 set out the Government’s response to assisting households and businesses with inflationary and other cost of living pressures.
A winter cost of living package for households, totalling €2.2 billion, was a major part of this Budget. It included:
- a double week of social welfare schemes,- a fuel allowance lump sum of €400,- a once-off payment of €500 to those in receipt of the Carer's Support Grant, Disability Allowance, Blind and Invalidity Pensions,- a €200 living alone allowance lump sum,- a €500 working family payment lump sum,- a double child benefit payment, - a once off reduction in student contribution/tuition fees for undergrads, post-graduates and apprentices,- three €200 electricity credits for all households.
In addition, a Christmas Bonus was paid to eligible Social Protection recipients.
Budget 2023 also included new core permanent spending measures, focusing on cost of living, with an estimated value of c. €1.3 billion, including a €12 weekly Social Protection rate increase for working age and pension payments and an increase in the universal subsidy on the National Childcare Scheme.
Due to the timing of implementation, the benefit of many of these budgetary measures continue to impact including: two electricity credits, significantly increased childcare subsidies, Social Protection rate increases, and the continued reduction in public transport fares.
In recognition of the unprecedented rise in energy bills, Government also introduced a number of support measures to various sectors such as;- €340 million in support of public and community services, - a €200 million Ukraine Emergency Response Scheme to help firms faced with liquidity issues as a result of increased energy costs,- a Temporary Business Energy Support Scheme, providing support to businesses encountering increased energy costs.
Outside of the expenditure supports, additional taxation measures for households and business were also announced.
Ireland is not alone in facing such high levels of inflation and cost of living pressures, while the supports are substantial, Government cannot protect all households and businesses against the full effects of inflation as to do so would lead to further inflationary pressures. However, the measures introduced do recognise the particular challenges faced by those on lower and fixed incomes.
My colleagues and I remain conscious of the pressures faced by households due to rising interest rates for some and wider cost of living pressures. My Department, alongside the Department of Finance, will continue to closely monitor economic developments and the impact on society as we progress through the year.