Speaking to The Echo, Fianna Fáil TD Christopher O’Sullivan said Budget 2023 will have to address the cost-of-living crisis. He said the blow of rising costs needs to be ‘cushioned’ for householders and business owners.
“Both householders and business owners are incredibly worried,” he said.
“We need to do all that is possible for people who are facing huge hikes in their energy and utility bills to ensure the blow is cushioned for them. It is very important that we don’t write blank cheques for energy companies. It must be done in a way that benefits the consumers.”
He believes help is needed in many households.
“We clearly need targeted measures for the lowest income earners, but I would like to see significant support in this budget for middle-income earners. There are many families out there with both couples out working and they are struggling to get by.”
Deputy O’Sullivan said Budget 2023 also needs to ease the worries of business owners to ensure jobs are protected.
“Businesses didn’t receive the energy credit earlier this year and they need help this time around. On a daily basis business owners are in touch with my constituency office having just received their latest electricity bill and they are skyrocketing. Many will face closure or will face partial closure over the winter.
“Throughout the pandemic, through supporting businesses with the wage subsidy scheme and the CRSS scheme we managed to save a lot of jobs to the point where we are almost at the point of zero unemployment. We cannot undo all that now by not stepping in and supporting business owners with their energy and utility bills. That is vital.”
The Cork South West TD also wants the current Vat rate for hospitality to be maintained beyond February to help the sector.
“I think it is vital that we maintain the 9% Vat rate. It is something that I have stressed with Minister McGrath and Minister Donohoe.”
Social Democrats TD Holly Cairns said that people with disabilities need to be prioritised in Budget 2023.
“Despite improvements in funding in recent years, the experience of many disabled people in Ireland continues to be one of social exclusion. Even before the cost-of-living and energy crises, disabled people were disproportionately living in poverty.”
Deputy Cairns said her party is also looking for a ‘clear pathway’ for people out of poverty.
“We are also looking for a €15 increase in core social welfare payments, to include Disability Allowance, along with a rise in Fuel Allowance from €33 to €48.
“When all three payments are taken together, qualifying recipients would get a weekly increase of €50, helping to create a clear pathway out of poverty.
“Our budget also includes funding for a Workforce Planning Strategy to help with the recruitment and retention of staff within the HSE’s Children’s Disability Network Teams. We are also in favour of pay parity for Section 39 workers, along with measures to allow disabled people to leave congregated settings and have full access to education or employment opportunities,” she added.
Independent TD Michael Collins wants the fuel allowance to be increased by €100.
“Energy bills need to be tackled. People are struggling with the rising cost of living. They must seriously look at the fuel allowance. You could be in serious debt with mortgage repayments and car loans but none of them are taken into account. They should increase the fuel allowance by €100,” he said.
Deputy Collins also wants more protection for farmers and fishermen in Budget 2023.
“There needs to be massive protection in agriculture.
“The government is announcing lots of schemes but then 90% of the applicants can’t qualify. I also have serious concerns about the fishing sector. 60% of it is being decommissioned. The cost of fuel must also dramatically decrease.”