Martin and Varadkar on collision course over energy credit as Tánaiste thinks €100 isn’t enough

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Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar are on a collision course over the €100 energy credit.

r Varadkar wants a “more generous” credit to mitigate the spike in electricity prices during the winter months.

However, the Taoiseach is concerned about the impact of increased credit on inflation, which could then make the cost of living crisis even worse.

Mr. Martin is keen to deal with rising costs in other ways, such as lowering the cost of drugs by lowering the threshold for the drug payment plan.

A senior Fine Gael source says the Tánaiste believes more needs to be done to help families cope with cost of living pressures.

“A more generous energy credit is an option and would be straightforward once the legislation is passed. Plus, it benefits all households, which is important,” the source said.

They added that in the “medium term” the party wants to reduce the cost of health care and childcare.

Mr Varadkar told the Fine Gael parliamentary party that the €210m energy credit scheme was not enough.

However, a Fianna Fáil source warned there was a “thin line” between helping with the cost of living and contributing to inflation.

“The issue of the cost of living is very difficult to manage politically, but the government is very aware of this and does not want to contribute to the worsening of inflation,” the source added.

Another senior Fianna Fáil source said Fine Gael was “getting ahead” in offering an energy credit boost.

“It’s the start and there’s work to be done,” the source said.

At the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meeting, the Taoiseach said it was considering a “range of measures” aimed at reducing the cost of living and protecting people’s disposable income.

Mr Martin said he was also aware of the cost of education and was looking at ways to reduce the financial burden of sending children to college.

Inflation in the EU hit a record high of 5.1%, according to the latest figures, but fell slightly in Ireland.

Mr. Martin and Mr. Varadkar told their parties they had pledged to reduce government fees and charges.

Meanwhile, Treasury figures show January tax receipts of €6.7bn were 24% higher than last year and 13% higher in January 2020.

The Cabinet recently approved legislation supporting the unprecedented Energy Credit, which aims to reduce the financial burden of electricity costs. The new system should be in place by next month.

Green Party Leader Eamon Ryan, who is also Minister of Energy, is responsible for implementing the program.

Its spokesman said it was working on a “range of different measures” that will reduce the cost of energy bills.

On Tuesday, Mr Varadkar had a private meeting with Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe to discuss measures to address rising bill costs for families.

High-level discussions are underway within government on the introduction of cost-of-living policies ahead of the next budget.

The cost of living has become a major political issue in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, with opposition parties repeatedly raising the issue in the Dáil.

Government backbench TDs are facing a backlash from their constituents over the rising cost of energy bills and food prices. The government’s decision to ban cheap booze is also a major issue on DT’s doorstep.

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