THIS week’s budget has been welcomed in many quarters in Limerick, despite a warning from organisations dealing with the most marginalised and impoverished that it will change very little for people in need.
Among the broadly welcomed measures announced this week were a €600 energy credit for households, free schoolbooks for primary school children, a 25 per cent cut in childcare costs, and increased spending on health.
Limerick Fianna Fail TD Willie O’Dea described the budget measures as “progressive and protective.”
Deputy O’Dea said the budget, which will include a €4.1bn cost of living package, will “safeguard people, families, and businesses from cost-of-living shocks while strengthening public services.”
He added that the Government is in a position to respond “aggressively” to the crisis on the back of a strong economy and full employment.
Limerick Green Party TD Brian Leddin said that while the budget brings immediate relief measures, such as the energy credits, “additional targeted measures through the warmer homes scheme, fuel allowance, and welfare increases, will ensure that those who are most vulnerable in our society have additional supports.
“Short-term measures are not enough. The reality is that there is no longer a future with fossil fuels,” he declared.
He welcomed the initiative on childcare costs, describing it as “life-changing” for families.
The Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) however says that while there are some welcome aspects to Budget 2023, the one-off measures won’t stem a rise in poverty.
SVP says that the cost of living package will help people get through this winter but next year people on low incomes will be pulled further into poverty due to inadequate social welfare increases and a failure to increase or expand the fuel allowance to families on the Working Family Payment.
SVP says that spreading the resources available too thin and providing primarily once-off supports leaves those in poverty very vulnerable to further hardship as the cost of living continues to rise.