Another round of the €200 energy credit and an autumn social bonus are possible in the cost of living budget, Foreign Secretary Simon Coveney has said.
Speaking on Sunday, Mr Coveney said the focus of tomorrow’s Cabinet meeting to agree the summer economic statement will be to help people with low and middle incomes.
He said higher-than-expected tax revenues in some areas this year will “certainly” allow for the payment of one-off measures as well as some longer-term measures that can be paid for next year and beyond.
“One of the unusual things this year is the taking of very high taxes in certain sectors,” Mr Coveney said.
“It allows us to make one-time payments to meet what we hope will be a dramatic, one-time increase in the cost of living, at least in the short term.
“It would allow us to spend in ways that we normally wouldn’t… the kind of things we’ve already started doing in terms of energy credit, which effectively lowers the cost of household electricity bills, that kind of stuff.”
He also said the government was potentially looking at paying the Social Premium, an extra week of payment in the fall to help people prepare for winter.
“This kind of thing is possible now because we have a strong economy,” Mr Coveney said. “We have strong corporate tax revenues this year. They may not be there next year. But they are there this year, and we want to take advantage of them to try to support people who are under financial pressure.
He said the final package will be a combination of one-off payments because the state can afford to do so this year.
“In addition, there will be more permanent changes that we will make sure we can afford next year and the year after to help people with the cost of living, and trying to reduce the cost of life where the state can intervene in areas like child care,” he said.
He said he is confident a number of measures can start having an impact on people this year, rather than waiting until January when budget measures usually start to take effect.
He said his focus and that of Fine Gael focused on people on fixed incomes who depended on the state, but also people who made up a huge percentage of our population and had average incomes.
Mr Coveney also said he wanted to make sure that when they do get pay rises they don’t lose more than half of that money in taxes to the state.
Bringing the budget forward in September, Mr Coveney said he was in favor of it as long as the two finance ministers – Paschal Donohoe and Michael McGrath – say it is feasible from a delivery perspective.
“Yes, if it is manageable to do so, but to be honest, it is the decision of the minister of public expenditure and the minister of finance, because they are the ones who actually have to manage the mechanics of the development of a budget,” he said.