WITH charities reporting an unprecedented demand for their services, the Taoiseach has said the Government cannot bring in measures to address the cost of living crisis “every single week”, saying they will instead address it in a more “medium term”.
Micheál Martin said that any measure the Government takes to help ease the financial burden on households will be to help people cope.
While the Government is working on a cost-of-living package, it is not expected to include further financial support. Measures so far have included a cut in fuel excise duty, the reduction of public transport costs, and rebates on household energy bills.
The Government is also set to publish household advice on reducing bills, which includes taking shorter showers and reducing car journeys.
“The Government has allocated about €2bn since the budget to cost-of-living issues and that has ranged from some universal measures and others, so Government has already gone farther than most other European countries in terms of dealing with cost-of-living issues,” Mr Martin said.
He said issues arising from the pandemic, including supply and demand and supply chains issues, had caused inflationary pressures and now the cost-of-living crisis was being exacerbated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“We have to look at this over the medium term because we can’t take measures every single week in response to every single increase that may occur over the next while, so we have to do this in a more focussed way.
Government can’t bring in cost-of-living measures ‘every single week’ https://t.co/ASeS5MqVwD— EchoLive.ie (@echolivecork) April 4, 2022
“Any measures we take have to be with a view to helping people cope with the current situation, it’s not a week-to-week basis.”
Reacting to Mr Martin’s comments, Cork North Central People Before Profit Solidarity TD Mick Barry said the Government should be doing more to address the causes of increases in the cost of living.
“This is a poor show from the Taoiseach — more excuses on the one hand and then backing up the call for people to shower less on the other,” Mr Barry said.
“He should not be allowing the ESB hike prices 25% when they made €700m profit last year.”
Meanwhile, charities have reported an increased call on their services.
Paddy O’Flynn, south-western regional president of the Society of St Vincent de Paul, described as “absolutely unprecedented” the demands currently facing the charity.
“It’s mainly being driven by problems people are having with utility bills, gas, electricity, and on top of that now we are getting more and more requests for food, which we are helping through the use of vouchers, and we see no let-up,” Mr O’Flynn said.
“We are facing a very bleak situation and the only bit of good news is that we are approaching summer but we don’t see the situation improving any time soon.
“We are experiencing an incredible demand for help,” he said.
Cork Penny Dinners co-ordinator Caitríona Twomey said the charity’s figures are “way up”, with people they had never seen before seeking assistance.
“People from all walks of life are struggling and people across the board are crying out for help because they can’t afford to pay their bills,” Ms Twomey said.
“The problem is it’s impacting the rest of their bills and a lot of people are falling behind — even people with two jobs are struggling to make ends meet.”