The government will help everyone to cope with the increase in bills in the budget
The government will put in place measures to help the public cope with rising energy bills in the budget, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has pledged.
Mr Donohoe said this year’s budget, which was brought forward at the end of September, focuses on helping people cope with “unaffordable” spikes in energy prices.
The Minister for Fine Gael presented his plans at the launch of the annual tax report.
His comments came as electric ireland became the latest energy supplier to announce a price hike across the island of Ireland.
From October 1, it plans to raise residential electricity bills by 26.7% in Ireland and 29% in Northern Ireland.
Mr Donohoe said the Government was acutely aware that ‘rapidly rising bills are a real and real source of concern and pose so many challenges to so many people’.
“We appreciate that,” he said. “What I want to do is highlight the steps the government will take to respond to a challenge that is getting worse and worse at a rate that can and will be unaffordable.”
He said the budget was brought forward to the end of September “in anticipation” of rising energy bills.
“The government will present a budget in a few weeks which will have, at its core, measures that can help, that can help, with the rising cost of living and measures that we aim to implement by 2022,” he added.
Mr Donohoe, who will attend a meeting of G7 finance ministers on Friday, raised the question of how there can be a global response to the “significant and profound challenges” posed by the energy crises.
He said the government is considering introducing measures that help as many people as possible.
“The changes that are currently being made to monetary policy are broad,” he said.
“The reason they are wide is that the changes that are happening in inflation have been wide and are now being felt by everyone.”
He explained that one of the “big challenges” will be trying to help the large part of society “who earn enough not to qualify for means-tested payments, or not qualify for help through our social protection system, but do not earn enough to be sheltered from the big changes that are happening right now in the price of electricity and the price of gas”.
“It’s a really important group within our economy, within our society,” he said.
“They are facing, again, post-pandemic real anxiety and worry, and I think it’s very important that the government plays its part and looks at how we can offer them support later in the year. “
Mr Donohoe also said who becomes the UK’s next prime minister will have an impact on Ireland.
“Whoever will be the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and whatever economic policy decisions he takes is their business,” he said.
“But we are a small open trading economy. And that matters to us.
He added: “Our main trading partners are within the European Union, the United Kingdom and the United States, and any change in their economic performance, of course, is something that can have an effect on our national economic outlook, on our economic growth forecast for the Irish economy.
“So that’s something I’m watching closely. It’s something that will be an ingredient in the planning that we do for our budget.
He added that the “resilience and strength” of the Irish economy currently puts the country in a position that will allow Ireland to react to any changes later this year and next.