Every private home in the State is set to receive €100 off their first electricity bill of 2022 under new plans set to be announced by the Government next week.
As reported in the Irish Examiner, two million homes will receive the credit in a bid by the Government to address rising energy costs. Households will receive the credit regardless of income with no commercial premises being eligible.
It is estimated that the move will cost €200 million and will be funded through existing resources within Minister for Environment Eamon Ryan’s Department of Energy budget.
This comes following figures released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) on Thursday, detailing that the rate of inflation rose by 5.3 per cent in November. According to the CSO, inflation is now at a 20-year-high.
Prices rise by 5.3% in the year to November 2021https://t.co/OWm9Vd96P1 #CSOIreland #Ireland #CPI #ConsumerPrices #Inflation #Deflation #Prices #BusinessStatistics #Business #BusinessNews #IrishBusiness pic.twitter.com/gaLXqhAEmh
— Central Statistics Office Ireland (@CSOIreland) December 9, 2021
Energy costs have been a contentious issue amid 35 increases in prices since the start of the year.
The average annual electricity bill for a customer on a standard tariff is currently €1,274. Meanwhile, a gas customer on a standard tariff pays €989.
Average electricity users on the best deal in the market pay €961, while a gas customer on the best deal pays €792.
It is understood that, with the proposed once off credit payment of €100, households who do not avail of it in the first month of 2022 will not have the opportunity to carry it over.
According to the Irish Examiner, sources within Government have said the move will require legislation and is likely to be passed by Cabinet on Tuesday.
However, there is some concern that all households receiving the credit regardless of income may be “politically tricky” but applying a means test was seen as “too onerous, complicated and slow”.
On Thursday, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar told the Dáil the Government is developing specific measures to tackle increases in gas and electricity prices, which have skyrocketed in the past year.
He said: “The cost of living in Ireland is rising, it’s rising very fast.
“After more than a decade of little or no inflation, we now see prices rising at a rate of more than 5 per cent a year. I don’t think we’ve seen that maybe in 20 years.
“That’s very much driven by increases in fuel prices, increases in energy prices.
“The Government is very aware of that. We know it’s very difficult for a lot of families, who are trying to make ends meet, trying to find enough money to pay the bills at the end of the week or at the end of the month.”
He added: “In relation to energy prices in particular, the Government is aware of the European toolbox and the options that are available to us to assist families and households in particular, with the high cost of energy.
“That’s currently under consideration at the moment.
“Now we’d certainly like to do something that would help with electricity bills and maybe gas bills as well.
“Minister Donohoe (Finance), Minister McGrath (Public Expenditure) and Minister Ryan (Environment) are working on that at the moment.
“We’d hope to be in a position to make a decision on that in the near future, so that people will see the effect of that in the bills that they receive in the new year, being a little bit less than perhaps they expected.”
Mr Varadkar was responding to questions from Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty, who said consumers had been hit with 35 hikes in their energy bills this year.
As energy prices soar and households struggle to make ends meet, the government sits on its hands and does nothing to ease the burden.
There are solutions, including discount schemes and temporary reductions on VAT, and the government must act now! – @PearseDoherty pic.twitter.com/rTtIPmREP1
— Sinn Féin (@sinnfeinireland) December 9, 2021
He cited research by price comparison website Bonkers.ie, which showed “that those price hikes could increase the annual household energy bill by as much as €1300.”
Mr Doherty said countries across Europe, where energy bills are cheaper than in Ireland, have already taken steps to address inflationary costs.
Meanwhile, economists have warned inflation is likely to remain high in 2022 and beyond with food and fuel becoming increasingly costly.
-Additional reporting by PA