The cost of living crisis is not impacting everyone equally

The government has again failed to sufficiently target its cost-of-living measures to low and middle-income households, according to Social Democrats Climate Spokesperson Jennifer Whitmore.

“In recent weeks, the Central Bank, the St Vincent de Paul, the ESRI and even the Oireachtas Committee on Budgetary Oversight have all said the same thing – the government needs to target its supports at those who need it most.

“Despite the resounding nature of this expert advice, the government has yet again failed to sufficiently target supports to low and middle-income households. Meanwhile, it has done nothing to reduce the skyrocketing cost of home heating oil – which has increased by 127pc in the past year and is the predominant method of home heating for elderly people and those in rural areas.

“The government could have used this opportunity to introduce measures that would provide real relief to those who are struggling most. It could have put €300 back in the pockets of those earning up to €50,000 with a refundable tax credit; increased core social welfare rates by €5; increased the minimum wage and committed to a timeline for the introduction of a living wage; expanded eligibility for the fuel allowance to those on the Working Family Payment and loosened the criteria for the Exceptional Needs Payment.

“It is also now clear that the VAT reduction for gas and electricity, finally announced by the government this week, could have been introduced months ago if the government had bothered to request the change from the EU. Up until March, the government had insisted that a change to the VAT rate was not possible.

“The cost of living crisis is not impacting everyone equally. Those on low and middle incomes spend a disproportionate amount of their income on essentials like food, fuel and housing costs. It is therefore the responsibility of the government to design measures that target this cohort of households, to try to dull the impact of this crisis. The alternative, is more and more people falling into food and fuel poverty.”

13 April, 2022


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