Proposed August petrol and diesel price hikes may not go ahead, Taoiseach indicates

Carbon tax increase due in October is expected to go ahead as part of climate change commitments

Future increases in the price of petrol and diesel are under review including the rise due in August, Taoiseach Simon Harris has said.

Mr Harris signalled in the Dáil that fuel prices might not increase in August as he came under pressure from Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald who accused him of talking “a big game nine days out from an election” about reducing the cost of living for struggling families.

She claimed “the cost of living has never been higher and getting by has never been more difficult than under this Government”.

Ms McDonald said the Taoiseach sat at Cabinet when the Government chose not to increase the core rate of child benefit or qualified child payments to the levels needed.

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“Having failed to tackle the cost of living crisis you now talk a big game nine days out from an election,” she said.

She said that if Mr Harris was genuinely concerned about struggling families “why would you make them struggle more. You must know that raising the cost of petrol and diesel again and again will hurt these families. So don’t do it.”

She said if the Government is really serious about tackling the cost of living “start by scrapping your plan to hike the price of petrol and diesel in August and October”.

In March 2022, the Government reduced excise duties on petrol, diesel and marked gas oil to help households and businesses dealing with rising inflation post Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and a spike in energy costs globally.

The first of these increases took effect in April including a 4 cent rise in the price of a litre of petrol, and a 3 cent rise in the price of diesel. Similar hikes are also planned for August.

While Mr Harris said the August price hike is under review a carbon tax increase due in October is expected to go ahead as part of climate change commitments.

The 2022 temporary reductions were initially due to end on August 31st, 2022, but were subsequently extended. In Budget 2024 the Minister for Finance Michael McGrath provided that the reductions would last until March 31st, 2024, with a phased restoration across two dates, April 1st and August 1st this year.

Ms McDonald had highlighted the survey by children’s charity Barnardo’s that the cost of living was putting enormous pressure on households, which found that half of parents said they or their children have gone without or cut back on the basics over the last six months including food, clothes, medicine, electricity and heat.

Mr Harris said that “objectively the Government is making progress when it comes to child poverty. The consistent poverty rate is now lower for children than it has been at any other time since it started to be measured in 2004,” and the at risk of poverty rate for children is also lower than it has ever been.

The Taoiseach added that “to the men and women driving to and from work, collecting children from school later today I want them to know that while the Government keeps future rises under review including the August one, in the Sinn Féin alternative budget you propose restoring all of the carbon tax by the month of April.

“So stop trying to cod people. The people aren’t thick. They can see through this single year that you have faux outrage ‘rah, rah, rah, stick a video up on Twitter” but he said that in Sinn Féin’s alternative budget the party had said to extend the reduced rate of excise duty on petrol and diesel to April and not August.

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