The Government has no plans for any further significant intervention to tackle cost of living increases ahead of next October's Budget, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath has said.
Speaking in Cork, Minister McGrath said he accepted that the measures in the package announced yesterday, along with others announced in the Budget, would not be enough to compensate everyone for the cost of living increases that had already taken place.
But he insisted that was it, for now.
A €200 energy rebate to every household in the country is the main plank of the Government's package, which was announced yesterday. It accounts for €378 million of a total of €505 million.
The other two big ticket items are the 20% reduction in public transport fares at €54 million, and the €125 payment to the recipients of the fuel allowance, which costs €49 million.
"The Government doesn't have any plans for any significant further intervention in the area," the minister said.
"Of course, as normal, we keep all these under review. Our expectation is that the level of inflation will ease over the period ahead, and our plan is to introduce the next Budget in October of this year."
Minister McGrath also said he was signalling a willingness to negotiate with trade unions on the pay elements of a new public service agreement that would take account of rising inflation.
Speaking earlier, the minister said the Government believes it will make a "positive difference" for a very large number of people.
There are many who have an income above social welfare thresholds but are struggling, he said.
He also said there is a "safety net" within the social welfare system and people can seek additional help when they need it.
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Last year, he said, 55,000 payments were paid with an average payment of €770 in these circumstances.
Minister McGrath accepted that when the current public service pay deal was negotiated, inflation was not a significant factor, and he acknowledged that any successor to the current public service agreement, Building Momentum, would have to take account of inflation.
Taoiseach warns caution required with measures
Ireland has to be careful in not "chasing" inflation through wage increases, the Taoiseach has said.
Speaking in Brest, France, at the One Ocean Summit organised by President Emmanuel Macron, Micheál Martin said inflation was an international phenomenon.
He said yesterday's package "will never fully, obviously, meet the current inflationary cycle in terms of the scale of it, but it will help alleviate the pressures that are on many families".
Asked if he supported ICTU's call for wage increases for the private sector, the Taoiseach said that negotiations between trade unions and employers would continue.
"I think generally as a society, we have to be careful that we don't try and chase inflation and then end up causing more harm than good."
In the public sector, he said Minister McGrath was working with the unions and there was an agreement in place.
The National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) has sought assurances from Government that the 20% reduction in public transport prices will not have an impact on workers' pay.
NBRU General Secretary Dermot O'Leary said: "We don't know where that money is coming from ... The fundamental issue for us here is staff certainly will not be paying or plugging the gap on this one."
Co-leader of the Social Democrats Róisín Shortall rejected the Government's assertion that the bulk of the measures announced yesterday to address the rising cost of living are targeted.
"That is patently not true. Out of €505 million in total, €378 million is going in an untargeted measure and that is the electricity rebate. That is a very blunt instrument. It is not targeted at all towards people who absolutely need it and are in dire straits."
She said a lot of the money will be given to people who "won't even notice it going into their account" and people who have holiday homes.
"We know there is about 62,000 holiday homes, and the total cost of giving that energy rebate to people in holiday homes is €12.5 million. That is a substantial amount of money that is going to people who, I would argue strongly, don't need it."
Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe last night defended the measures and the logic of the strategy was to get financial assistance to householders as quickly as possible.
However, Sinn Féin's Pearse Doherty has derided the Coalition's approach, claiming it only scratched the surface of a problem which is affecting more and more people.
Speaking on RTÉ's Prime Time, Minister Donohoe said that in adopting this universal payment strategy for the energy rebate, the Government's assessment was that speed was of the essence.
He contended targeting supports at people who most need them would have meant many months of work, and financial assistance not being available until later this year.
Mr Doherty countered that the Government should have acted earlier to deal with the rising costs of living.
He called for a payment of €200 to those earning less than €30,000, arguing lower income households spend more on heating and lighting their homes.
Additional reporting Paul Cunningham