The Government has set money aside should it be required next year to help people with the cost of living, the Tánaiste has told party colleagues.

Leo Varadkar said people would see the benefits of Budget 2023 in the coming weeks, but he said work is "continuing to put money back in people's pockets".

He also sought to reassure his parliamentary party that the exact details of the concrete block levy would be worked out before the Finance Bill comes before the Dáil on 20 October.

The levy should place the onus on the construction industry and not the average tax payer, he said.

Earlier today, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said that households struggling to pay their energy bills remain at risk of disconnection.

Ms McDonald said the plan to ban disconnections from the beginning of December to the end of February is not sufficient and it should be introduced immediately.

She said the promise that customers on 'pay as you go' would not be disconnected must be followed through with a detailed action plan.

The Taoiseach said this is a war time situation and Government has announced unprecedented measures to help people get through this period.

Micheál Martin again rejected calls for a cap on energy prices saying it could be a blank cheque for energy companies for two years or longer.

He said the total number of pre-pay meters in homes is around 340,000 and he pledged that Government would protect people through the Social Protection system and the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU).

"We have no interest in not protecting people he said," the Taoiseach told the Dáil.

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However, despite guarantees from the Taoiseach that they would protected, People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy also said customers using pre-paid electricity still face the prospect of being cut off if they cannot pay for power.

He told the Dáil: "As things stand prepaid customers can be cut off. They are looking for a guarantee that no prepaid customers will be cut off."

In response Mr Martin said that people on pre-paid arrangements "should not be cut off".

He said that the Department of Social Protection and the CRU were providing "strong protections" for customers.

He said that Deputy Murphy had been "too dismissive" of protections introduced in the Budget which he said would have an impact.