“Multibillion euro" budget package being worked on to ease cost of living crisis, says Varadkar
"It does require a response of scale in my view."
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said the Government is working on a one-off "multibillion euro" budget package to respond to the current cost of living crisis.
Speaking to Morning Ireland on RTÉ Radio 1 ahead of a Fine Gael think-in on Friday (9 September) in Kilkenny, he said the meeting would be focused on setting out the negotiating mandate for the party's ministers going into the budget.
The Tánaiste said what Fine Gael is going to want is "action that's going to put more money back in people's pockets and reduce the cost of living".
Varadkar added that the budget needs to help with household and business energy bills, provide an income tax package to help working people, and assist the most vulnerable such as carers, pensioners and people with disabilities.
Asked then about the Government's plans for energy credits, the Tánaiste explained it is working on a "one-off budget package for this year".
He explained that the "multi-billion euro package" would be paid for out of a surplus.
On top of this, Varadkar said it is "very clear" to him that there will have to be more action in this area next year and that the Government is not ruling out any further options to deal with the crisis.
Speaking about the budget response to the energy crisis, he said: "It does require a response of scale in my view.
"I don't think it's about a competition of trying to spend more money then we spent during Covid. I think that's the wrong approach.
"It has to be enough to reassure people that their living standards won't fall precipitously.
"It has to be enough to say to businesses that we saved jobs and businesses during the pandemic, we're not going to let them go to the wall now.
"It also needs to reassure the vulnerable that there's a floor that we won't let them fall below."
However, Varadkar added that the Government also needs to "leave something in the tank".
"What the opposition is saying is spend all our resources now and I think that's a mistake.
"We don't know how long this is going to go on for. The last thing we want is to find in the spring or even next winter that we need to help people even more and we don't have the money."
Main image via Sasko Lazarov / RollingNews.ie