Ministers have signed off on a plan to assist households struggling with the rising cost of electricity bills in a €210 million scheme.

Under the plan, all domestic electricity customers will receive a once-off €100 credit, which will be operated by ESB Networks.

ESB will make payment to individual energy suppliers.

The scheme will not be means tested and will also apply to people on pre-pay contracts. People will not need to apply for the scheme.

New legislation would be required for such a move, which means that consumers will not get the reduction until at least February.

Inflation is running at a 20-year high of 5.3%, according to the Central Statistics Office.

The main driver is a spike in electricity, gas and other fuels, which are up 29% on this time last year.

Minister Eamon Ryan said the Government is "very conscious that international energy prices are having a significant effect on utility bills".

He said the credit is "designed to provide all householders with a contribution to their electricity bills in the spring of 2022".

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has called for the Dáil to sit next week to ensure that the energy credit is paid to people as quickly as possible.

She said the €100 credit is "modest but it's welcome" and will "bring some small relief".

However, she said that it is "crazy and unacceptable" for people to have to wait until March to receive it.

The Labour Party's finance spokesperson has claimed it is only an "absence of political will" which has prevented the Government from a targeted intervention to help households struggling to pay energy bills.

Ged Nash said a €200 carbon credit could have been given to households earning under €50k - a move which would have directed the money at those who needed it.

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett has branded the Government's €100 electricity credit plan as "utterly pathetic" given the scale of price increases over the past year.

He argued in favour of the introduction of price caps on energy prices because the cost of living is "going out of control".

Meanwhile, Solidarity TD Mick Barry called for the Dáil to sit for an extra two days if necessary to ensure that people struggling with energy bills get the help quickly - rather than waiting for legislation to be passed in the New Year, with a payment not being made until March or April.

The Minister of State at the Department of Finance, Sean Fleming, said the payment is to cover cold weather in January, February and March.

Speaking on RTÉ's Drivetime, Minister Fleming said it will take time to work out the details of those in flats and apartments, with coin meter systems or others where the accounts are in the landlord's name.

The legislation will be ready after the Christmas break, he said.