Tá oibrithe agus teaghlaigh ar fud an Stáit ag streachailt leis an ghéarchéim le costais maireachtála, agus tá sé dhíth ar an Rialtas tuiscint an bhrú faoina bhfuil na teaghlaigh seo agus feidhmiú ansin chun tacú leo. In áit seo agus in áit cáinaisnéis éigeandála a thabhairt chun tosaigh, beidh briseadh ag an Dáil seo fá choinne an tsamhraidh agus beidh míonna deacra amach roimh go leor teaghlach.
The latest consumer price index, CPI, published this morning by the Central Statistics Office, CSO, shows that inflation has continued to rise to more than 9%, the highest rate in four decades. Workers and families are facing alarming increases in the cost of fuel, energy, food and transport. Persistent failures in housing and childcare see households, renters and families paying more and more for keeping a roof over their heads and raising their children. We on this side of the House all recognise that the causes of the cost-of-living crisis are driven by global factors, including the illegal Russian invasion of Ukraine, but also by domestic factors. The causes do not remove the responsibilities of Government.
The impact of this cost-of-living crisis hits lower and middle-income households hardest. That is clear to anybody who has heard from families who have had to turn off their heating or put less food on the table because they simply have no other choice. On in three households today are living in energy poverty. This week, we heard from the Children's Rights Alliance that 62,000 of children are living in consistent poverty. Most people are feeling the squeeze but lower and middle-income households are bearing the brunt. They need a Government that understands their struggle and responds to their needs. Today, this Dáil will rise for its recess and will not return until September, but workers and families will continue to struggle with this cost-of-living crisis week in, week out over those summer months.
The Tánaiste refused point blank to act on the calls from Sinn Féin to bring forward an emergency budget with measures that would protect and provide certainty and support for these households. Instead, he told them that they should wait until the end of September. This is despite organisations such as the Central Bank of Ireland, the Economic and Social Research Institute, ESRI, and our own budget watchdog all saying that the Government has the capacity to provide further support to struggling households and to provide it now. This support is necessary and would relieve the pressure households face and help them navigate through the difficult times in the days, weeks and months ahead.
For months now, Sinn Féin has proposed sensible and affordable measures that would provide real relief to these families by increasing social welfare rates in response to rising prices, introducing cost-of-living cash payments to those on low and middle incomes, reducing childcare fees, supporting renters by putting one month's rent back into their pockets and banning rent increases, providing greater support for more families with back-to-school costs, and reducing fuel costs for those struggling to heat their homes and fill their tanks. These are all measures that could have been introduced before the Dáil broke this summer, but they were not. They should have been acted upon. The Government should have listened not just to Sinn Féin but to the pleas and demands from ordinary people who are struggling just to get by.
We acknowledge that not everybody can be protected from every price increase. The Government can do and should have done more to protect and support workers and families but it decided otherwise. As this Dáil breaks for the summer, what is the Tánaiste's message to the tens of thousands of families who are struggling to survive and cling on and who so desperately need the Government to do more for them right here, right now before the summer break? Once this Dáil returns, will the Tánaiste commit to implementing the solutions we in Sinn Féin have put forward, some of which I listed today?