Real and meaningful action needed now from Government to support hard pressed workers and families
01 June 2022
- Government must act now to support all wage earners.
- An increase in small benefit exemption an easy and meaningful first step
Reacting to reports that there will be no meaningful action before October to address the spiralling cost of living, Labour Senator Marie Sherlock has today (Wednesday, 1st June) said the Government cannot keep hiding its head in the sand and must respond with some real urgency.
Senator Sherlock said:
"The Government must get its head out of the sand and move to immediately support wages and increase the small benefit exemption from €500 to €2000. A voucher-based tax-free benefit would enable employers to make annual transfers to employees that can be used to clear mounting utility and other bills. This would be a crucial help to households alongside much needed permanent pay increases.
“For low paid workers, there must be an immediate increase in the minimum to €11.50 with a speedy move to introduce Labour’s Living wage bill. Inflation is having a devastating impact on all households, but the lowest paid are always least able to cope. The reality is also that they are the ones who are most reliant on an entirely dysfunctional and exorbitant rental system. That is right and it is not fair.
“The CSO’s earnings and labour force survey published yesterday reflects that there are serious real wage cuts currently taking place across the economy. With nominal private sector weekly wages growing on average by 4.1% on an annual basis to Q1 2022 and with much of that driven by increases in the construction and professional services sector, it is clear pay increases are lagging far behind. This is having a massively negative knock-on effect to people’s standard of living.
"Ironically, these real wages cuts come at a time when Korn Ferry’s Ireland Board Index of listed companies shows that non-executive directors have seen a 79% increase in remuneration over a four-year period.
"Eurozone inflation is now running at 8.1% and despite the positive negotiations between trade unions and some employers, the Government must play its part. Households are having to deal with year on year increases of over 50% in some of their utility bills and we know that some households are now facing mounting multiple bills. An increase in the small benefit exemption would assist households in being able to clear some of these bills.
"Ultimately, this crisis can only be addressed by action by employers on wages rises and by the Government on the cost of accessing housing and public services. Increasing the small benefit exemption is only one small step but sustainable measure that must be taken by the Government and employers to address the spiralling cost of living."