Táimid ag foghlaim inniu go bhfuil ardú 6.7% tagtha ar phraghsanna le bliain anuas agus go bhfuil praghsanna fuinnimh ag dul suas níos mó, thart ar 47%. Tá níos mó ná dúbailt tagtha ar chostais ola théimh le bliain anuas. Tá na hoibrithe agus teaghlaigh ar fud an Stáit ag fulaingt mar gheall ar chostais mhaireachtála. Caithfidh an Rialtas dul i ngleic leis seo. Ba chóir go mbeadh sé ag tógáil an ualaigh throm seo atá ar theaghlaigh ach ní hé sin atá beartaithe. Is é an rud atá beartaithe ag an Rialtas seo ná go mbeidh praghsanna ag ardú níos mó, mar gheall ar cháin charbóin a ghearradh ar an bhfuinneamh seo, taobh istigh de chúpla seachtain. Caithfear stop a chur leis seo.
Yesterday, my party leader pressed the Taoiseach on the need for further measures in the form of an emergency budget to tackle the cost-of-living crisis. We have been consistent in that call for some time. It would appear that the Tánaiste's Government has turned its face against this at a time when workers and families are really struggling. This morning's consumer price index shows that prices have risen by more than 6.7% in the past year, with energy prices increasing by 47%. The price of home heating oil has gone up by a staggering 127%. It is more than double. The cost-of-living crisis demands an urgent and comprehensive response from Government.
We acknowledge that households cannot be fully insulated from all of the prices increases we are seeing, but we know that Government can and must do more. That is what we heard from the Economic and Social Research Institute, ESRI, last month. It is what we heard from the Central Bank just yesterday, when it said there is headroom for Government to act. Instead, it remains intent on pushing ahead with carbon tax increases, hikes next month and increasing energy prices, when efforts should be focused on reducing them.
Three weeks ago, the Minister for Finance categorically ruled out any further measures to support workers and families until the October budget. At that time, I said that he was out of touch with the realities households were facing and that his position lacked credibility. Now, it seems that Government is changing its position. At least, that is what is reported from utterances from the Tánaiste and from the Taoiseach last night that the carbon tax increases will be offset with other measures, despite the Minister for Finance having ruled this out.
However, we have seen no details. The carbon tax hike should not go ahead. Government should not push up the price of home heating oil, which has already more than doubled in the past year, or of gas. Efforts should be made to reduce the price of home heating oil and of other fuels, not to increase it, but we need a more comprehensive package.
We have called for a range of effective measures that would be targeted at workers and families. We have called for the Government to work with the Commission, as far back as November, to reduce the VAT on domestic energy bills to zero for a period of time. The Tánaiste and his Government rejected the proposal at the time but they have now changed their position and only began this work a couple of weeks ago. However, his Government is still ruling out reducing the VAT to zero on energy bills, even if the Commission gives it the flexibility to do so.
We have called on Government to extend the fuel allowance by six weeks. We have called for social welfare rates to be increased, in line with inflation, in order that the most vulnerable in our society will not experience that sharp drop in living standards. Will the Tánaiste consider that proposal?
We have called on Government to remove excise duty on home heating oil, as families struggle with a cost that has risen by more than double in the past year to try to keep themselves, their family and their children, warm in their homes. We have also called for cost-of-living cash payments directed at low- and middle-income earners and supports for those who struggle with unaffordable rents.
There is a need for an emergency budget. That need is clear and it is now. Will Government change course? Will it scrap the carbon tax increase it plans in the coming three weeks? Will it commit to an emergency budget in response to the cost-of-living crisis?