Leo Varadkar hints that the increase in social benefits will take effect immediately after the October budget
Welfare recipients can expect to see an increase in payments in October, Tanaiste Leo Varadkar reported.
It comes as the government is under pressure to provide additional financial aid to households across the country who are facing soaring bills.
In a word
When asked if an increase in social benefits could be introduced instantly once the budget is announced, Varadkar replied: “It is possible.
“The budget is announced on budget day, then there is the finance law and there is also a social protection law.
“But in fact a lot of the weekly rates can be increased by ministerial order, so there’s no need for legislation to go through the Dáil.
“So it can be done faster.
“The tax measures, for example, and you know, from previous budgets before sometimes the tax measures were taken overnight, and you’ll know that in last year’s budget we actually brought in the increase in fuel allowance so that can be done and that is definitely an option.
Increased social protection
The Fine Gael leader is said to be undecided whether welfare recipients will receive more than last year’s budget – €5.
However, he said last year’s budget was based on inflation which was then 2%, but inflation is now close to 8%.
He added: “So I think it stands to reason that pension increases and social protection packages will have to be bigger in 2023 than they were this year. That’s right.
“The cost of living is rising and the economy is healthy.
“We have more people at work than ever before.
“Trade is breaking old records and public finances are quite good.
“So, you know, when the government can protect people’s standard of living, it should seek to do so.”
No change to social protection before October
Although he said last week that interim cost-of-living measures could be introduced before October due to the mounting cost-of-living crisis, Mr Varadkar appeared to backtrack on those plans.
It comes as Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe and the Taoiseach have ruled out any move before October.
Asked about the U-turn, Varadkar said: “Well, we have already taken measures, as you know, so we have implemented 4.4 billion euros of measures to help reduce the cost of the life thanks to tax reductions, indirect VAT, to help people with the lowest incomes with, in particular, an increase in the fuel allowance.
“So we have already intervened 2.4 billion euros in intervention so far this year.
“We don’t have anything planned until budget day.
“We really want to focus now on a budget day package.
“But these are measures that could come into effect, you know, almost immediately in the days following the October budget, for example, and then others that would then come into force next year.
“So it’s not that measures will be announced in October and none of them were introduced in January.
“We are looking at which ones we can introduce in October and November.”