The Social Democrats party is calling for a €1.5 billion support package for households in targeted direct cash payments.

Party Co-Leader Róisín Shortall said the Budget must provide relief to hard-pressed families and individuals but must strike a balance between dealing with the challenge of rising prices and meeting the long-term challenge facing society.

In its pre-budget submission, entitled 'Responding to the Crisis', the party is seeking a €1 billion fund to support businesses through the energy crisis.

The party is also calling for a 10% tax on vacant and derelict homes to bring them back into use and it wants a €100 per month tax credit for renters along with a three-year ban on rent increases.

In the area of health the party, which has six TDs, is proposing to abolish in-patient charges, free GP care for those aged under 12 and to reduce all prescription charges to 50 cent.

The Social Democrats want to increase the minimum wage to €12 per hour and to raise welfare payments by €15 combined with a double payment week this winter.