By Cate McCurry, PA
Increases in the State pension and social welfare payments are among some of areas being considered by the Cabinet ahead of next month’s Budget.
Leo Varadkar pointed out that there has been no rise in the State pension for a number of years, and added that he wants to return to a “norm” in the Budget, where increases are made to the pension and social payments.
Speaking at the Fine Gael think-in in Co Meath, the Tánaiste refused to disclose any figures under consideration.
Among the measures expected to be included in Budget 2022 are a tax package for middle income earners, as well as welfare and pension packages.
Mr Varadkar said there will also be financial aid packages for businesses, particularly sectors that have not yet fully reopened.
He said the costs will be negotiated between now and Budget Day.
“I’m not going to mention any numbers because I imagine both Heather (Humphreys) and Michael (McGrath) would string me up if I did, but that’s going have to be negotiated between now and Budget Day,” the Fine Gael leader said.
“But the reason why Fine Gael is calling for that pension welfare package to be in the Budget is because there hasn’t been an increase in the State pension now for a number of years, hasn’t been increased with the basic weekly payments.
“I think it was acceptable at a time when the cost of living wasn’t rising; it now is – we’ve seen a return to inflation.
“Anyone who pulls into the petrol station, anyone who goes to supermarket will tell you that the cost of living is rising again.
“There are a number of priorities for the Budget. One obviously is to reduce the deficit, which we need to do, but not too quickly.”
He also said there will be additional investments in public services and infrastructure.
“We’re not going to put any figures out at this stage,” he added.