Micheal Martin has promised households specific help with “heating their homes” and the “weekly shop” in the Budget on Tuesday.
Sources say this refers to energy credits and putting more money back in people’s pockets through cash payments or tax back to help them pay rising bills like groceries. The Tanaiste was speaking at the Cairde Fianna Fail President’s Dinner in the Burlington Hotel in Dublin last night as crunch Budget talks continue all weekend.
Mr Martin was accompanied by Finance Minister Michael McGrath when addressing the media and both said the talks are ongoing. Mr McGrath said he will be working all weekend with colleagues and Public Expenditure Minister, Paschal Donohoe, was “in the trenches” in working out deals with ministers coming looking for their piece of the Budget pie.
The giveaway Budget is expected to include another cost of living package worth billions of euro, with more energy credits, welfare, one-off bonus payments and a tinkering of the tax bands that will see workers pay up to €1,000 less tax in a full year.
However, the specifics are yet to be decided. Last night Mr Martin said: “We have to take action to help families with the unique cost of living pressures they are facing.
“International events, and in particular the savage war against a European democracy in Ukraine, have maintained pressures on prices this year. When it comes to essential activities like heating homes and the weekly shop, families need help and we will respond.
“And we will continue to insist that fairness be at the heart of the budgets agreed by this government. Direct tax relief will benefit all, but the priority must continue to be to help those who need it most.
“We have a highly progressive tax system and it must continue to be progressive, with people on low pay directly benefiting from changes.”
Speaking directly with the Sunday Mirror, he added: “We have a cost of living package coming in the Budget.
“Energy is clearly still an issue. It was more severe last year, but it still is a significant issue; we want to get people through the winter.”
Mr McGrath said: “Work is ongoing in respect of all aspects of the Budget… On the tax side, my work is essentially complete in terms of finalising proposals for the party leader.
“But as is always the case, we don’t have an agreed Budget until everything is agreed.”
Coalition leaders Mr Martin, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Greens chief Eamon Ryan will meet with Mr McGrath and Mr Donohoe tonight.
Budget 2024 will be unveiled on Tuesday at lunchtime.
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