The ISCP are disappointed with the Cost-of-Living Package that was finally announced on Tuesday 21st February. While we welcome any and all support, we are consistently let-down by yet another string of temporary measures. Measures that only offer one-off support for energy bills while people struggle to meet the everyday cost of living. We worry about future planning and implore the Government not to leave this on the long finger.
This was further compounded by the latest CSO Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) which revealed that 13.1% of people were at risk of poverty in 2022. Following on from our last post calling for Government to consider a Wealth Tax, the SILC showed that the richest 20% of people had 4 times the income of the poorest 20%.
From our own member’s point of view, the age group most at risk of poverty is Age 65 and over. We know it is not surprising, but the report affirmed that the largest year on year change to occur, jumping from 11.9% in 2021 to 19% in 2022 is among those over 65 years. The report also highlighted that an income of €309 places people below the poverty line. €309 versus the State Pension of €265.00 at its highest rate with many older people living on less than this, in particular women.
If there is no consideration in planning for a secure and safe income for our aging population, these numbers will continue to increase.
The table below outlines the measures that were announced as part of the Cost-of-Living package:
Welfare: Recipients of weekly welfare payments such as pensioners will receive a lump sum of €200 on top of their usual payment. This bonus is due to be paid in April and May.
Excise Duty: Lowered rates of excise duty levied on motor fuels are to be increased on a phased basis.
Energy Costs: The temporary reductions in VAT on gas and electricity, from 13.5% to 9%, will be extended to 31 October 2023. The Government are maintaining their promise of €200 Electricity Credit to every household in March 2023.
Inpatient Hospital Charges: The Government are maintaining their promise of abolishing inpatient charges in all public hospitals from April 2023. Currently, the public in-patient charges range from €80 per day up to a maximum of €800 in a year (including day-case charges).