Micheál Martin denies €100 off electricity bills is ‘gimmick’

Micheál Martin said the move was not designed to outflank left-leaning political opponents
Micheál Martin denies €100 off electricity bills is ‘gimmick’

The Taoiseach has denied that a planned €100 household electricity bill giveaway is a “gimmick”, as social justice campaigners and financial experts warned it will make little difference in combating hefty bills.

Micheál Martin said the move announced by the Government to give €100 per home to be used for the first electricity bill in 2022 was not designed to outflank left-leaning political opponents.

However, Social Justice Ireland (SJI) claimed the move was largely symbolic, as hard-pressed households were not only contending with rising electricity prices, but also growing cost of living expenses all round.

SJI research and policy analyst Michelle Murphy told The Irish Examiner that a new Oireachtas report by the parliamentary budget office (PBO) was evidence that welfare increases have not followed inflation consistently in the past decade.

“Indexation of welfare rates to inflation, even if adopted, may not be adequate at present to maintain living standards for all,” the PBO report stated.

Ms Murphy said the report offered evidence of the need for the introduction of a universal basic income in Ireland.

"€100 on an electricity bill is a gimmick when you consider a year of price increases with no corresponding increases in welfare,” she said.

“For those in arrears, €100 means next to nothing. The PBO report is devastating, because it shows the Oireachtas’ own evidence that there is a problem.

"The likes of SJI don’t criticise for the sake of it, this is its own agency reporting this.”

The Taoiseach insisted the Government was very conscious of rising bills, and that the €100 was “a bit more help” to hard-pressed families.

“We’ve already taken measures in the budget,” he said.

“We are very conscious that we are going into a period of significant inflation in energy prices — not just in Ireland, but globally.

“We just wanted to do a little bit more to help people meet their electricity bills over the coming period, on top of measures that we took in the budget, which were more focused on the fuel allowance — increasing the eligibility of it, and increasing the amount of it, and also the tax relief in the budget was designed to give a bit more help to people.”

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