“We’re not dead yet boys,” an old football manager used to say as we stood on a bench in the dressing room and watched through a window as our opponents got off a minibus.
e catastrophic about their size. “God, they’re big.”
We were under 12.
“We don’t have a day to lose,” Charles Michel, the President of the EU’s European Council, said last Friday as he warned of the impending “catastrophe” for homes and businesses facing soaring energy prices this winter.
The EU’s European Commission is preparing a plan to separate electricity prices from gas costs to ensure electricity prices reflect cheaper renewable energy.
It is one of a number of emergency measures the Commission is said to be working on – “at full speed” – including a longer-term “electricity market structural reform” ahead of the expected severe impact of the energy crisis.
The wholesale gas price plummeted on news of the commission’s intentions, although it’s still 12 times higher than it was in early 2021.
The Commission has similarly been accused of being slow to act on securing vaccines and longer term on renewable energy and the climate crisis during the recent Covid crisis.
These events are not unrelated, but we will return to them…
However, there is an element of Charles Michel’s catastrophe in our opinion poll today. However, if you look at some of the results, it becomes clear that a comfortable majority will survive this winter.
We’re not dead yet folks.
So let’s not get ahead of ourselves with the sense of impending doom. Europe is struggling with major crises. So does Ireland. Like last winter and the winter before that when Covid hit.
However, nearly three-quarters (73 percent) say the most important issue for government is the cost of living — a 10-point rise in one month. It is no coincidence that energy companies have announced massive increases in gas and energy prices in recent weeks.
A similarly massive 78 percent say politicians are out of touch with the concerns of ordinary people. Whether these opinions will be swayed by the revelation that a young TD 11 owns property or that a minister has failed to register a rental property is hard to say – but there is hardly a politician in Ireland or Europe or anywhere else who loses touch with the Worry about rising energy costs this winter.
In this survey, we asked whether people could afford the recently announced significant increases in gas and electricity. More than 60 percent can, some conveniently, others at the touch of a button, with a whopping 39 percent doing so by reducing other costs. It’s the other almost 40 percent that we have to worry about, part of which I suspect is also catastrophic.
How many people lie awake at night worrying about their financial situation? Ten percent. Four times as many (42 percent) worry from time to time—and who wouldn’t these days? — while 40 percent say they do it every day now, which is perhaps the most striking number. That’s a lot of worries on top of the sleepless nights.
But last week there was also good news. The government has more than 6 billion euros in its pockets for a cost-of-living budget this month. It has been described as an unprecedented war chest.
For supposedly aloof politicians, it will be interesting to see what decisions are made.
When gas and energy bills come through the door or land in an inbox this winter, this survey shows what people want – help with their household bills.
A full 50 per cent, up a whopping 17 points, want another round of lending for those bills, while the proportion who want the government to prioritize tax cuts has fallen five percentage points to 21 per cent – despite strong support for Leo Varadkar’s proposed new ones Tax Band for Middle Incomes.
It’s more likely that the government will use a variety of other methods to put money back into people’s pockets to help them make ends meet in the short term.
It’s not hard to understand why people only want cash in their accounts to pay their gas and utility bills. The recent hikes announced by energy companies are really scary. It’s important to remember, however, that no one’s gas or electricity will be cut off this winter.
It’s also important to remember that about a quarter of people live hand-to-mouth. And these should be the first things to look out for in the household. The point is that a significant number of people have money in the bank to complete the challenge ahead.
The question is how long the challenge will last.
For those worried about utility bills this winter, there will be little consolation grappling with the broader, interconnected, and geopolitical issues.
But inflation started to rise before the war in Ukraine, which had to do with unraveling post-Covid supply chains. Climate change, which has led to a drought across Europe this summer, is also contributing to food costs.
At the same time, the globalized economy, which has led to a massive drop in poverty rates since the 1980s, is being broken up and a new world order is being created. Autocracies like China and Russia are on one side; Democracies like Europe, the US and the UK are on the other side.
These events will have longer-term consequences.
In our survey, however, concerns about Covid and the climate are falling – although these issues are (still) contributing to the ongoing crisis. When an electricity bill lands in the hundreds of dollars, people have little wiggle room to connect the dots.
However, government and politicians at a broader European level need to rethink some things. The issue of energy price caps across the continent this winter needs serious consideration.
In the longer term, however, a windfall tax on energy companies that make windfall profits can be counterproductive.
Investment will be needed to save the planet and wean Europe off Russian fuel — lots and everything, as a majority (62 percent) in our poll want to hammer them in with a tax on profits of between 25 percent and 50 percent.
That will not happen. This winter will be tough, extraordinarily difficult for some, but politicians are in touch. You will help people through this crisis.
However, it might be prudent to calm the rhetoric. The poll shows that a majority do not want more Ukrainian refugees to come to Ireland, but those fleeing the war in Ukraine are not to blame for where we are.
First and foremost, Vladimir Putin is to blame. Second, a prolonged lack of critical thinking at the European level is disappointing. It’s always been like that.
But Europe will catch up, as it has with the Covid vaccines. It was always like that.
It is important to remember that we will come through this latest crisis in reasonable order.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/cost-of-living-crisis-a-bleak-winter-lies-ahead-but-how-long-will-the-pain-last-41959741.html Livelihood crisis: A grim winter is upon us – but how long will the pain last?