The Government’s new cost-of-living package, announced on Tuesday, includes a number of measures aimed, it says, at “putting money back into people’s pockets while ensuring there is no cliff-edge for the temporary measures already in place”.
Measures include a bonus Child Benefit payment of €100 per child in June, and once-off €100 increase in the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance in July, while a second lump sum of €200 will be paid to those on the Working Family Payment.
Locally, the €60 million package for education, which includes the waiving of exam fees for Junior and Leaving Cert and reduced school transport fees, has been welcomed by Fianna Fáil Senator Eugene Murphy, who says it will alleviate the financial burden on families.
“These measures will make a significant difference to many households across Roscommon and the country as a whole. I applaud Minister Norma Foley for her efforts in reducing the cost of living for Irish families and look forward to seeing the positive impact of these measures on our community,” he said.
Sinn Féin TD Claire Kerrane, however, said the measures don’t go far enough for workers and their families.
Deputy Kerrane said the Back to School payment should not be a one-off and that the Fuel Allowance should have been extended to those on the Working Family Payment.
“The announced measures include no additional supports for fuel and heating, despite calls from Sinn Féin to establish a much-needed Discretionary Fund to assist households struggling with utility debt,” she said, before adding that lump sum payments for one-parent families and those with disabilities would not be enough.
“That these payments will not be received until April means that many households will continue to struggle, when supports are needed immediately,” she said.
Deputy Kerrane said that more and more workers are reaching out to organisations such as St Vincent de Paul and called on Minister Heather Humphreys to return Community Welfare Officers to communities in order to expedite applications for State-aid.