A cursory examination of the figures reveals the inequity at the core of this plan

The government’s excuses for failing to target their cost-of-living measures at low and middle income earners do not stand up to scrutiny, according to Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall.

“A cursory examination of the figures reveals the inequity at the core of this plan. The vast bulk of the €505 million package comprises €378 million directed at universal €200 electricity credits – meaning 75pc of the funding is not targeted.

“To further underscore this point, as part of this plan, holiday home owners will receive a mammoth €12.4 million. By contrast, the Working Family Payment measures in the plan are just €4 million – a meagre one-third of that amount. Does the government believe holiday home owners are under more financial strain than low income workers?

“Finance Minister Michael McGrath has stated he will donate his €200 electricity grant to charity. If his colleagues in cabinet do the same, it will mean a combined donation of €3,000 from ministers. Compare this to the €378 million package they had the power to target at low and middle income earners. If they had directed that funding to those most at need, perhaps they would have prevented many from seeking the assistance of charities like the St. Vincent de Paul this year.

“The government has justified using the blunt instrument of a universal €200 credit as a necessary response to get funding to people quickly. This does not stand up to scrutiny. The credit was announced by the government in December. By its own admission, it will not be paid until April – five months later. It had time to target this funding if it wanted to.

11 February, 2022


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