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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speaking during Leaders' Questions this afternoon Oireachtas TV
Cost of Living

Taoiseach: Upcoming cost-of-living package will not be on the scale of a mini-budget

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar confirmed that there would be both targeted and universal measures within the package.

LAST UPDATE | Feb 15th 2023, 8:38 PM

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has reiterated that the upcoming cost-of-living package will not be on the scale of a mini-budget, with the plans due to be unveiled next Tuesday.

It’s understood that Varadkar told the Fine Gael parliamentary party to “temper” their expectations for the upcoming package of supports, saying that they would be remaining within the parameters set out in Budget 2023.

The upcoming package, which is due to contain both targeted and universal elements, will be agreed by the Government over the coming days, with some ministers set to meet tomorrow for discussions.

It’s understood that the Taoiseach said that any decisions made must be both affordable and be sufficient to help people and businesses until the budget in the autumn. 

Earlier today, he said that “people will have clarity no later than next Tuesday” on the new package.

“In terms of of what will what measures will look like they will be both universal and targeted,” Varadkar told the Dáil.

“Targeted because pensioners, people on low incomes, people who receive social welfare payments are suffering the most from the rising cost of living, particularly because it’s groceries and energy costs that have gone up the most.

“There will be targeted measures, there will be a welfare element to this.

“There will be universal measures as well, because all households – including middle income households – are experiencing the rising cost of living.

“I don’t think it’d be right to say to middle income families that you’re being left out and that we’re doing nothing for you.”

Varadkar said that there would likely be a Finance Bill brought forward to the Dáil in the days following the announcement, but denied that the Government was planning a mini-budget when asked by Labour’s Ivana Bacik.

“We’re not going to be having a mini-budget, that’s not necessary,” Varadkar said, adding that they would be remaining within the parameters set out in Budget 2023.

However, Bacik said that with the need for a Finance Bill it appeared that the upcoming package was akin to a mini-budget.

“If it looks like a rose and smells like a rose, it is a rose,” Bacik said.

“This sounds like a mini-budget and certainly if there’s a Finance Bill, it sounds very much like a mini-budget.”

Yesterday, Finance Minister Michael McGrath indicated that the upcoming package would be the final intervention by the Government ahead of Budget 2024.

He told reporters that the Government needed to get the “best possible result” from spending taxpayers’ money on further supports.

“It’s important that whatever we do is affordable, that we manage taxpayers’ money well, that we make decisions to get the best possible result from the use of public money, and that whatever decisions we make in the next week or so represent the final intervention in advance of the next budget in the autumn,” McGrath said.

“I think it’s important that we manage the resources of the country well, and we do so in a carefully considered and structured manner and so this is an important set of decisions that we have to make.”

There are a series of measures that are due to expire at the end of the month, including the reduced VAT rate on hospitality, gas and electricity alongside excise cuts on petrol and diesel.

A final €200 energy credit is also due to be paid out for bills between March and April.

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