Aid to the less fortunate must be the state’s priority


There is a perception that people feel things in their hearts. But veteran politicians have learned, to their own detriment, that the people really have it toughest in their pockets. And when everything costs more, it becomes very personal.

As economist Sam Ewing put it, “Inflation is when you pay $15 for a $10 haircut that you used to get for $5 when you had hair.”

When the teachers’ unions meet this week, the government will be able to hope for such sentiments. With inflation at its highest level in almost a quarter century, the whole country is feeling the effects of the crisis.

A push by the Irish National Teachers’ Organization (INTO) for a significant pay rise is likely to reinforce similar demands from other public sector unions. The state is hampered in pursuing pay rises by inflation because every 1pc on the wage bill costs the treasury about 250 million euros.

However, a way must be found to alleviate the rising cost of living. Later this month the government will start talks on a possible new collective agreement for the public sector. The Public Sector Committee of the Irish Trades Union Congress has invoked a change of circumstances clause to launch a review of the existing agreement due to the changing economic situation.

INTO President Joe McKeown’s message to delegates that its members are experiencing serious erosion of living standards will resonate with staff across the country.

Economic forecasts are notoriously unreliable, but right now they’re consistently grim. The cumulative impact of Covid and the war in Ukraine is taking a heavy toll and further risks in the coming months can hardly be ruled out. ESRI estimates that disposable income could fall by up to 2 percent a year. Businesses are also being hit hard as SMEs and large manufacturing companies face much higher energy bills.

We must never lose sight of the enormous humanitarian crisis caused by the war in Ukraine. But there are also consequences for the global economy that need to be addressed.

The uncertainty and unpredictability of events make long-term strategic planning difficult. Making long-term commitments to mitigate situations that may be relatively short-lived must be done with caution. sense finefinancial spokesman from Pearse Doherty has previously urged the government to introduce an emergency budget with targeted measures to support low- and middle-income households.

The government has allocated €2 billion to try and ease some of the pressure on wages. The state can only do so much. Their core concern must be to take thoughtful action to target less affluent households who are hit hardest by high energy bills.

like dr Sean Healy of Social Justice Ireland writes in these pages today: “Poverty is never just about income, it’s always about income.” Aid to the less fortunate must be the state’s priority

Fry Electronics Team

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