About €60 million was paid last year to struggling households in need of additional welfare benefits as the government plans to “wean” people out of cost-of-living measures in the coming weeks.
Government leaders will meet next week to decide on aid that will not be extended beyond the end of February.
Energy credits for households, a 9% reduction in the value-added tax rate on electricity and gas, and a reduction in the excise tax on gasoline and household kerosene are part of the cost-of-living measures the government introduced last year and are set to come to an end. End of February, and a ban on energy cutting.
Green Party leader Eamonn Ryan said the government was likely to phase out fiscal measures.
“Yes, we need to loosen our measures. The exact timing to do it step by step, or step by step, is more likely in that case,” he told RTÉ Radio One.
The €200 worth of energy credits could be extended, but the excise cuts on petrol, diesel and domestic kerosene are expected to come to an end, which will see higher prices at pumps.
According to new figures provided by the Department of Social Protection to Seán Sherlock of the Department of Labor, the state will pay 97,224 applicants for utility bills, rent, mortgage payments, clothing, child-related expenses, and financial costs. It shows that we paid more than 58.2 million euros for expenses such as Helps with illness.
This is an additional payment of €17 million compared to the total spent in 2021 on paying additional needs for people struggling with living expenses.
The breakdown shows that August, November and December were the months when people across Ireland had the most trouble paying their bills and daily expenses.
Departments may make additional need payments to meet expenses that individuals cannot afford from their weekly income.
The state paid €35.4 million just to help people pay their rent and meet their mortgage repayments.
In 2022, over €5.7 million was spent on clothing, €6.6 million on funeral expenses, €1.8 million on household expenses and over €7.5 million on general expenses.
“The increase in the number of payments and the amount paid by the State Department is a clear indication that the cost of living crisis is still acute,” Sherlock said.
“It is very important that the government updates its campaign to inform people of these payment schemes and to ensure that funds are delivered given that Taoiseach is talking about ending cost of living assistance. I think,” he added.
Meanwhile, Housing Minister Dollar O’Brien and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said no decision had been made on extending the temporary eviction ban, but the situation was under “close scrutiny”.
Ryan said the government should seek legal advice from the attorney general on the matter.
The reduction in value-added tax to the hospitality sector is not expected to be extended until the end of February, with a temporary Business Energy Support Scheme (TBESS) for businesses struggling with rising energy prices, government sources said. There will be debate as to whether or not to extend it.