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Irish households to get €600 in three energy credits paid over six months

It can also be revealed that the same memo warned of the impact of increasing energy prices on businesses, which could result in job losses or reduced hours for workers in some sectors.

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath with Budget 2023 at the Department of Finance.

Eamon Ryan

Hugh O'Connell and Wayne O'ConnorSunday Independent

Households are in line for three discounts of €200 or more on their electricity bills between now and next spring, under proposals being considered by the Government.

The three electricity credit payments, totalling €600 or more, to every household in the country could form part of measures to address the cost of living in the Budget later this month.

It would mean each bi-monthly electricity bill would be reduced by at least €200 or more, with one credit applied to bills before Christmas and two credits on bills next year. The proposals are being strongly backed by Fianna Fáil ministers.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has already suggested government supports for households to pay large energy bills will be extended into next year. The energy credit expected to be made available before Christmas is likely to exceed the €200 given to households earlier this year, said Environment Minister Eamon Ryan yesterday.

“We’re in a much more significantly challenging position than we were in the spring, so clearly, we will have to go further,” he said.

One senior figure suggested the payment could be increased to €250 — but no decision has been made ahead of a meeting of the three Coalition leaders and the Finance and Public Expenditure Ministers on Tuesday.

The State can expect to receive “several billion euro” under an EU plan to redistribute profits from energy providers and support people struggling with the cost-of-living crisis, Mr Ryan said.

Eamon Ryan

The news comes amid warnings to Cabinet last week that the annual cost of a typical family’s gas and electricity bills could hit €6,000 next year, potentially plunging more than half of all Irish households into energy poverty.

It can also be revealed that the same memo warned of the impact of increasing energy prices on businesses, which could result in job losses or reduced hours for workers in some sectors. The memo also warns of “significant challenges to the security of the electricity supply out to winter 2025/26”.

Ministers are also examining proposed changes to the working family payment, in order to expand eligibility for the weekly tax-free payment (WFP) for workers with children who are on low pay and don’t qualify for social welfare support. An immediate one-off payment to families who already qualify for WFP immediately after the Budget is also under consideration.

However, it has also emerged Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath admonished ministerial colleagues at Cabinet last week over their spending requests, delivering what a source described as “a dose of reality” to ministers some of whom had submitted Budget bids of 20pc above their current spending.

Meanwhile, as many as 160,000 retired public sector workers are in line for a pension boost over the next two years, including a pre-Christmas lump sum of nearly €500, if trade unions accept the recently negotiated pay increase of 6.5pc.

Mr McGrath instructed officials to retain “pay parity” for public sector pensioners who joined before 2013 whereby their pensions move in line with existing staff member benefits.

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