Yesterday’s news that Energia will soon increase gas and electricity prices for the fifth time in a year comes as no surprise.
They were the sixth vendor to do so in just the last two weeks. And as Daragh told Cassidy from Bonkers.ie Independent.ie“[it] ends this cycle of rate hike announcements. The question is when the next one will start.”
And all while utilities are making record profits.
In anticipation of the next round of price hikes, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has today hinted at a cap on profits from these companies, with the remainder to flow back into government budgets to help those hardest hit by rising costs.
We already know that our government, endowed with massive tax revenues, will help those feeling the cost of living crisis. But we won’t know the details until September 27, when Paschal Donohoe announces the 2023 budget.
We know that every household will be granted an energy credit, but we do not yet know the amount. We also know the government is considering a range of other measures to help with rising costs.
Independent.ie looked around Europe to see how our colleagues have reacted so far.
The United Kingdom
Energy: £400 (€460) of energy credit paid over a six month period or added to users’ pre-paid accounts.
Living Cost Payment: A means-tested payment in two installments of up to £650 (€747) for nearly eight million needy households.
Winter fuel payment: Eligible pensioners will receive an additional lump sum payment of £300 (€345) in November.
Top-up disability payment: A one-off bonus of £150 (€172) will be added to the payment in September.
Social assistance: This will be linked to inflation from April 2023.
Energy: Electricity tax cut to 5 percent by the end of the year (previously 21 percent). A windfall tax for energy companies was announced in June alongside a range of measures worth EUR 9 billion.
Travel: Spain introduced free travel on suburban and medium-distance trains within a certain radius (approx. 50 km) by the end of the year. Metro fares have also been greatly reduced in larger cities like Barcelona.
Low earners: Spain pays €200 to people earning less than €14,000 and not receiving social assistance. A 15 percent increase in welfare was also introduced in June.
Fuel: The government enacted a 20 percent cut in the price of petrol and diesel to cover rising costs at the pump.
A €20 billion package of measures was announced in France last week.
Pensions and Benefits: A 4 percent increase in pensions and most benefits was announced.
Energy price cap: To protect against cost explosions, a previously introduced cap on the price customers can pay for gas and electricity has been extended.
Salaries for civil servants: There will be a 3.5 percent increase for civil servants in France. Private employers are also encouraged to pay bonuses to employees as tax-free bonuses. The amount that companies can pay their employees in the form of these bonuses will be increased from 1,000 euros to 3,000 euros.
Transport: An 18 cents per liter cut in the price of fuel is extended, while the tax-free payments employers give workers to cover transport costs have been raised from €500 to €700.
Rent: A 3.5 percent cap on rent increases is being extended until next year.
TV licence: In France, this usually costs €138. This is now paid for by the state.
Energy: Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz has also announced a windfall tax for energy companies and an electricity price cap is to be introduced.
Pensions: A one-off payment of 300 euros has been announced for pensioners.
Students: All students receive a one-off payment of €200.
Child benefit: This has been increased by an average of €18 per month and child.
Carbon tax: A delay has been issued on a proposed increase in the carbon tax for 2024.
Social assistance: Social assistance payments will increase by around €500 per year.
Income Tax: Tax brackets have been changed to allow for greater leniency for those earning less.
Transport: Germany will introduce a successor to its much-vaunted €9 monthly pass. For just €9 per month, people could use all regional and local transport. This step is estimated to have saved Germany 1.8 million tons of CO2 emissions in three months.
Housing: The number of people eligible for rent subsidy has tripled to two million as the program’s scope has been expanded to include marginally better-off people.
In two weeks’ time, a package will be announced on Prince’s Day in which the Dutch government will tackle the cost of living.
While the full package is yet to be confirmed, many details have been leaked, including:
Minimum wage: This will increase by 10 percent, which will also affect pensions and a range of other benefits.
Tax cuts on fuel and energy: These will be extended until the end of June 2023.
Energy: Low-income households are entitled to a payment of 1,300 euros in 2023, as was granted this year.
Higher benefits and allowances: The Dutch government has agreed to increase child benefit, rent allowance and health insurance allowance to support low-income earners.
Income tax: The lowest tax rate will be reduced in 2023.
Student grants: Payment for all students living away from home will be increased.
Energy: Reduction of VAT on electricity from 13 to 6 percent.
Low-income subsidy: A one-time subsidy of EUR 125 for everyone with an income of up to EUR 2,700 per month and EUR 50 for each child for all families regardless of income.
Pension: The government gives all pensioners an additional payment of half a month’s pension, which means a one-off payment of €105.
Rents: A 2 percent cap on increases in house and commercial rents for the next year and a freeze on the cost of public transport and train tickets.
https://www.independent.ie/news/explainer-what-other-countries-are-doing-to-help-people-with-worsening-cost-of-living-crisis-41971726.html Explainer: What other countries are doing to help people facing a worsening cost-of-living crisis