Thousands are households are set to receive another energy rebate worth hundreds of euro in time for Christmas, which is hoped to soften the blow as energy prices continue to soar.
The bonus payment was worth €200 in April. It will come as Taoiseach Michael Martin is calling on people to be more “energy efficient” this winter.
The Taoiseach was speaking after Energy Minister Eamon Ryan confirmed that a Christmas energy rebate bonus is coming on his way into Cabinet on Wednesday morning. Mr Ryan was asked if another energy rebate similar to the Spring €200 credit is imminent and he said “yes,” before going further by saying that before Christmas would be “the right time to do it.”
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His ministerial colleague in Public Expenditure, Michael McGrath, said the option was “on the table.” And senior Government sources have told the Irish Mirror that it’s “a done deal,” adding that “it’s easy to do and it will be popular.”
But the Taoiseach stopped short of announcing there will be another energy rebate for strapped households in time for Christmas. He preferred to give himself the leeway to make the formal announcement on Budget Day.
He added when pressed on the burning question: “I’m not going to do the Budget now.” The cost of the last €200 energy rebate for every home in the country earlier this year cost the Government in the region of €400million.
However, the Exchequer coffers are bursting at the seams, with a surplus of over €6.5 billion for the Coalition to play with on Budget day in a fortnight. It is expected that the ‘money ministers’ of Paschal Donohoe in Finance and Michael McGrath at Public Expenditure will unveil a cost of living package worth €2 billion.
This would be twice what was put aside in the Summer Economic Statement. Meanwhile, figures from the energy regulator show the real price of the cost of energy crunch to households so far this year.
The annual bill for electricity was up €480 year on year in August to an average of €1,600 according to the CRU (Commission for the Regulation of Utilities). Gas bills are soaring too, going up €420 to a new average annual bill of €1,380.
The prices for both bills have gone up by over 40% so far this year as the international energy crisis shows no sign of easing. This is the second price hike from Energia this year, after it upped their prices by 19% in April, while they had three price increases last year.
Price comparison website bonkers.ie’s head of communications, Daragh Cassidy, said this should be the end of the latest round of price hikes from the energy companies. But Mr Cassidy warned that we don’t know when the next series of higher bills will start arriving through our letterboxes again.
He said: “Today’s news was expected given recent price hike announcements from Electric Ireland, SSE Airtricity, Bord Gais Energy and others. This brings to an end this cycle of rate hike announcements.
“The question is when the next one begins. Unfortunately it’s almost certain all suppliers will raise prices again in a few months unless there is some type of intervention in the energy markets.
“While it’s hard to believe, only a small part of the increase in the wholesale price of gas has been passed on to consumers so far. There is talk about a cap on prices in the UK.
“However that is going to be hugely expensive for British taxpayers and will cost around €120 billion for just one year. If implemented here it would cost over €10 billion and would leave the Government with no room for any other type of social welfare measures, public pay increases or tax cuts in the upcoming budget.
"There are no easy answers. The upcoming emergency EU energy summit where a reform of the electricity market is on the cards may hopefully yield some more affordable solutions.”
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