The Government is acutely aware of the effect that high energy prices and the cost of living are having on families, businesses and the most vulnerable.
In recognition of these ongoing challenges the Government has today agreed a new €1.2 billion package of measures to put money back into people’s pockets, help with the bills, and ensure there is no cliff-edge for the temporary measures already in place.
The Taoiseach said “We know the cost of living remains very high and that people are under pressure. This package is about helping families who are struggling with the cost of living, helping businesses with their energy costs, and helping those on fixed incomes like pensioners and people on social welfare including carers and people with disabilities.
“Families with children will receive a bonus Child Benefit payment of €100 per child in June, and there will be a once-off €100 increase in the Back to School Clothing & Footwear Allowance in July. Meanwhile the Hot School Meals programme will be extended to all DEIS primary schools from September, benefiting 64,500 children.
“A second lump sum of €200 will be paid in April to people on the Working Family Payment, lone parents, low-income families, carers, those on disability payments, and pensioners among others.
“We have made sure there is no cliff-edge on fuels and energy costs. Lower VAT and excise rates will continue to apply on gas, electricity, petrol, diesel and marked gas oil until October. This will help families, businesses, and anyone who drives a vehicle, in particular those who commute to work or travel long-distance. The next energy credit is also due in March, as announced previously.
“For business, we’ve made it easier to apply for TBESS to help with electricity and gas bills, and the level of relief has been increased to 50% of the cost of eligible energy bills. There will also be a new grant for businesses using LPG or kerosene. The special reduced 9% VAT rate for hospitality businesses will be extended from March to August.
“We’ve already brought in five permanent measures from the start of this year, including a 25% reduction in the cost of childcare, €12 more a week for pensioners, carers and people with disabilities, a further 80,000 elderly people eligible for the fuel allowance, lower income taxes benefiting 1.5 million people, and €500 back for every renter.
“Because we continue to manage the public finances responsibly, we can take these measures while ensuring we still have sufficient resources for the next Budget in the autumn.”
- A €470 million package of measures to help social protection recipients from April to July, for: families with children, lone parents, low-income families, carers, those on disability payments, older persons living alone and pensioner.
- The measures include a lump sum child benefit payment of €100 per child to be paid in June, and a €200 lump sum to be paid in April to all long-term social welfare recipients.
- In July there will be a one-off increase of €100 in the Back to School Clothing and Footwear allowance, and the State Examination fees for students sitting the Junior and Leaving certificate this year will be waived.
- The Hot School Meals programme will be extended to all DEIS primary schools from September, benefiting 64,500 children.
- Start preparations for the Hot School Meals programme to be extended to non-DEIS primary schools.
- Reduced charges will apply to school transport of €50 per pupil at primary level, €75 per pupil at post-primary level, with a cap per family of €125.
- The temporary reductions in VAT on gas and electricity, from 13.5% to 9%, will be extended to 31 October 2023 at an estimated cost of €115 million.
- The temporary reduction in VAT on Tourism and Hospitality, from 13.5% to 9%, will be extended to 31 August 2023 at an estimated cost of €300 million.
- A phased restoration of the rates of excise on petrol, diesel and marked gas oil will take place in three stages over the coming eight months. This will see rates restored on 1 June by 6 cent per litre of petrol, 5 cent per litre of diesel and 1 cent per litre of marked gas oil. On 1 September these rates will increase by a further 7 cent for petrol, 5 cent diesel, 1 cent for marked gas.
- Rates will then be fully restored on 31 October with a final increase of 8 cent for petrol, 6 cent for diesel, and 3 cent for market gas oil. The extension, and phased reintroduction, of these excise reductions is estimated to cost €383 million.
- The Temporary Business Energy Support Scheme will be extended, to 31 May 2023, and enhanced, including by reducing the threshold for qualification from a 50% increase in electricity or gas costs to 30% increase (to apply retrospectively from 1 September last year), and by increasing from 1 March the level of relief from 40% to 50% of eligible costs, subject to a monthly limit, which will also be increased from March, to €15,000 per month per trade or profession, subject to an overall cap of €45,000 where the business is carried on from more than one location. These changes are subject to state aid approval from the European Commission. The cost of the extend scheme will be met from the allocation provided in Budget 2023.
- There will also be a new grant for businesses using LPG or kerosene.
Today’s decision comes on top of the extensive assistance provided by Government in Budget 2023 worth €4.1 billion.
Many of the measures announced as part of Budget 2023 are only now, or will shortly, come into effect.
These include the payment of the fourth Electricity Credit of €200 to every household next month, the abolition of inpatient hospital charges in April, and the introduction of free school books and reduced costs for further and higher education from September.
Other measures the Government has taken came into effect only recently, including double social welfare payments and the Christmas Bonus, the Fuel Allowance lump sum payments and expansion in the number of recipients, the increase in core social welfare and pension rates, income tax reductions, the rent tax credit, the increase in the minimum wage, and reductions in childcare costs.
The Government’s resources are not limitless and it is important that we continue to manage our public finances carefully. This means making sure the actions we take are affordable, sustainable, and, to the greatest extent possible, targeted at those who need them most.
These decisions taken today, along with those taken as part of Budget 2023, will provide certainty in the months to come and help alleviate the real worries of many families and businesses.