Welfare and child benefit bonuses in cost-of-living plan
The Government’s latest cost-of-living package is on course to exceed €1.2bn, of which €400m looks set to be allocated for social protection measures.
It follows a meeting last night between the Coalition leaders and the ministers for finance, public expenditure, and social protection.
The plan will be signed-off by the Cabinet when it meets at Government Buildings this morning.
Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys argued for a €200 lump sum social welfare payment.
There is also set to be a €100 lump sum Child Benefit payment per child and €100 extra for the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance.
Despite some speculation, the Government looks like it will not introduce an additional €200 energy credit in May.
There is to be a staggered increase in the excise duty on petrol and diesel to their previous levels.
Petrol will increase by 6 cent per litre on 1 June, 7 cent on 1 September and 8 cent on 31 October, which is an overall increase of 21 cent.
Diesel will increase by 2 cent per litre on 1 March, 5 cent on 1 June, 5 cent on 1 September, and 6 cent on 31 October, which is an overall increase of 18 cent.
It is understood Minister for Finance Michael McGrath pushed for a final extension of the 9% reduced VAT rate for the hospitality sector for a further six months.
It will return to the standard 13.5% rate from September.
The Temporary Business Energy Support Scheme is also set to be extended by three months, with entry criteria widening significantly.
Opposition parties that called for a mini budget are arguing the Government plan does not go far enough.
Socialist Party TD Mick Barry described the extension of the 9% VAT rate as “a €225m gift to the hospitality industry while cutting back on household cost-of-living supports”.
Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment Simon Coveney said that ministers had spent a lot of time discussing how to get the balance right.
Speaking on his way into Cabinet this morning, Mr Coveney said they aim to give “families and businesses the support they need and at the same time ensuring that we can afford what we are going to commit financially”.
Mr Coveney said that his focus was on supporting businesses “with a big focus on what to do in the context of the lower VAT rate and in terms of recalibrating … the Temporary Business Energy Support Scheme for businesses”.
The minister told reporters that the uptake in the original scheme was lower than they had expected.
“It was in the tens of thousands rather than the hundreds of thousands,” he said.
“And so I have worked with Minister Michael McGrath to recalibrate the qualification criteria so that businesses can be part of this scheme and also the level of support within the scheme.”
Meanwhile, the Cabinet will hear an update from Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman on the first annual report on the implementation of the Mother and Baby Home Survivor Action Plan.
It is understood the minister will speak to his colleagues regarding the Birth Information and Tracing Act, Burials Act, and the National Records and Memorial Centre on Sean McDermott Street.
It is also expected that the Cabinet will consider a plan to approve the deployment of up to 30 Defence Forces personnel to the EU’s Military Assistance Mission in support of Ukraine, which was mooted last year.
It is believed the Irish troops would provide training in demining to Ukrainian forces in a neighbouring country, such as Poland.