A fuel allowance lump sum, a bonus child benefit payment, and a further energy rebate are to be the main elements of the Government’s spring cost-of-living package.
As the Irish Examiner reports, a further once-off welfare payment is also under strong consideration.
However, motorists could face an increase at the pumps as the excise duty cut of 20c per litre on petrol and 15c on diesel, which was introduced last March to help reduce the cost of fuel, will be phased out between now and the next budget.
The Government is also set to dash the hopes of the hospitality industry by axing the 9 per cent Vat rate for the sector, despite fresh calls for the lower rate to be extended.
Hospitality industry representatives met with Finance Minister Michael McGrath on Monday evening to restate their demand for the retention of the 9 per cent rate.
While the meeting was described as a “listening exercise”, the Department of Finance is said to be keen to end the tax break amid accusations of “price gouging” by the industry.
Another double payment of child benefit is among the universal supports being pushed. However, one Government source cautioned that this measure would cost around €200 million, so other supports might have to be sacrificed if this is adopted.
Further measures in relation to the fuel allowance were last night described as “pretty surefire”.
This could be done using another bonus lump-sum payment of the fuel allowance, but the Government is also examining another widening of the eligibility criteria so that more people receive the support.
The third of the energy credit payments that were announced on budget day is set to be distributed in March, and senior Government sources from across the coalition have indicated that a fourth €200 payment is likely before the summer.
Tánaiste Micheál Martin has also indicated that he would like further energy credits to be rolled out in the autumn and winter when households naturally see bills rise.
While Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have been stressing the importance of both targeted and universal supports, the Green Party wants to focus on measures that would provide assistance to those most at risk, such as low-income workers and single-parent families.