Readers like you keep news free for everyone.

More than 5,000 readers have already pitched in to keep free access to The Journal.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can help keep paywalls away.

Support us today
Not now
Thursday 28 September 2023 Dublin: 14°C
# inflation crisis
Cost of living: Government rejects criticism of 'universal' and 'anti-motorist' measures
Social justice groups have described the measures as “a missed opportunity”.

LAST UPDATE | Feb 11th 2022, 10:26 AM

THE GOVERNMENT HAS said that introducing more targeted supports for the rising cost of living would have risked excluding people. 

Social justice groups have criticised the measures announced by the government last night, with one-parent family advocacy group One Family describing it as “a missed opportunity”. 

“One Family had urged the government to choose targeted, sustainable measures, instead of short term, universal payouts,” CEO Karen Kiernan said last night. 

“By giving a little back to everyone instead of targeted resources at those most in need, the most vulnerable will continue to suffer. Right now, more than one in every four one-parent families are living in consistent poverty.”

The central plank of the government’s package of measures is a once-off €200 credit that’s set to be included on on electricity bills from next month.

The rebate is set to cost over €400 million and is an increase on a previously announced €100 credit that had been approved before Christmas. 

Other measures included a 20% cut in public transport fares from April, an additional €125 lump sum for Fuel Allowance receptions and an extra €20 per month on the Drug Payment scheme. 

There were no changes to core social welfare or tax rates, with Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe saying such changes would only take place at Budget time.  

The universal nature of the electricity rebate has been questioned by some advocacy groups who have pointed out that it will benefit people who are well-off by the same amount as those who are less well-off. 

The Social Democrats have also argued that electricity bills for about 62,000 holiday homes will benefit from the rebate to the tune of €12.4 million that could have been spent elsewhere. 

Defending the the government from criticism this morning, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath that seeking to make the rebate more targeted would have delayed it. 

“You would spend perhaps a very long time designing a scheme that would seek to carve out and exclude a proportion of people who perhaps don’t need it. And I think speed of execution, getting this money to people quickly, we felt was imperative and that’s why we have designed it in this way and it will be applied in the March/April billing cycle,” McGrath told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland. 

McGrath said that he personally would be make a donation to the St. Vincent de Paul to account for the rebate but that this “is a matter of for every individual”. 

Asked whether holiday homes should benefit from the rebate, McGrath said that some holiday homes “have very large mortgages” and that the government “did not have a means of excluding holiday homes” as the rebate is on electricity bills that are administered by energy suppliers. 

Another criticism of the package has been the decision not to widen the eligibility net for the Fuel Allowance. Asked about this, McGrath said this had been done in the last Budget and doing so again risked excluding people. 

“Where you have eligibility criteria you will always have people who fall just on the wrong side of the eligibility criteria,” he said. 

“Where you target measures, which we are doing here in respect of the Fuel Allowance, then you will have people who fall just outside criteria.”


Asked last night about the decision not to reduce Motor Tax as well in addition to the reduction in public transport rate, Donohoe said it “would not be appropriate” to make a taxation decision outside of a Budget Day.

“For those who are I know experiencing great difficulty with the rising cost of fuel. Whether it be in their car, whether it be in heating their home, this is the guiding reason behind the electricity rebate that has been brought forward,” he said.

This decision has been criticised by rural politicians, with independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice describing the government’s plan as “anti-rural and anti-motorist”. 

“While the measures announced are welcome, the package as a whole offers little to nothing for those living in rural Ireland who have no other choice but to get in their car in the morning and commute to work,” he said. 

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel