The Government’s new €1.2 billion cost-of-living package was announced on Tuesday.

Further cost of living measures announced

One-off measures won’t address child poverty effectively nor will they resolve the effects of poor housing on the health and developmental outcomes of children.

That’s according to Dr Seán Healy, CEO of Social Justice Ireland, who is calling for an audit of recent initiatives on child poverty following the announcement of the Government’s €1.2 billion cost-of-living package on Tuesday.

“Those who were left behind in Budget 2023 have been left behind again in Government’s cost of living package, announced today,” said Dr Healy. He said the Government’s failure to increase core social welfare rates by €8 again demonstrates a lack of focus on protecting Ireland’s most vulnerable.

As part of that package, families with children will receive a bonus Child Benefit payment of €100 per child in June, as well as a once-off €100 increase in the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance in July.

The Hot School Meals programme will be extended benefiting 64,500 children. An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar also announced 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.

He 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.”

Mr Varadkar also said there would be no “cliff-edge” on fuels and energy costs, and that lower VAT and excise rates will continue to apply on gas, electricity, petrol, diesel and gas oil until October.

For businesses, the Temporary Business Energy Support Scheme (TBESS) will be expanded from 40% to 50%, while the special reduced 9% VAT rate for hospitality businesses will be extended from March to August.

Welcoming the 9% VAT extension, Joe Kennedy, Chair of the Cork Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) Branch, said the measures announced gives tourism businesses greater certainty as they grapple with the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on consumers and key overseas markets.

Mr Kennedy said: “(Tuesday’s) announcement is a clear recognition by the Government of the challenges facing tourism and hospitality. It will go a long way in helping to sustain the recovery of our industry.” The new package also promises a phased restoration of the rates of excise on petrol, diesel and marked gas oil over 3 stages in the coming 8 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, and 1 cent for marked gas.