Government intends to announce new measures to tackle the soaring cost of living by the end of the week, the Taoiseach has said.
Coalition party leaders are set to meet on Monday evening to discuss the proposals, but Micheál Martin has ruled out increases to social welfare payments or a reduction in VAT.
Inflation rates have hit a 20-year-high, primarily driven by global increases in the costs of energy such as oil and gas.
Mr Martin said the Government now believes price increases will be here in the medium term, after initially holding the view that these were short-term trends linked to the pandemic.
“People are now feeling the brunt of this inflationary cycle which people felt originally, the European Central Bank would have said it was a pandemic-centred inflationary cycle,” the Taoiseach said on Sunday.
“Other schools of thought, other economists are saying maybe not, it could be more medium term. The Government is now saying this could be medium term.”
He added: “There’s a range of measures that we’re going to examine.
“We do want to look after people who are hardest hit by the increase in home heating, in terms of fuel, and in terms of the basic necessities of life.
“And that people on low incomes in particular, that as best as we can, to target measures to help people who are suffering as a result of this increase in prices.”
While the Government has ruled out a “mini-budget” that could see changes to social welfare rates and VAT, Mr Martin flagged transport, health and home heating as areas that could be targeted to ease the financial burden on the public.
The Government has previously announced a €100 rebate for every household to tackle rising energy costs.
There have been calls for the figure to be increased, something Mr Martin said would be considered.
Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe, Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath, and Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys are to meet this week to discuss proposals.
The Taoiseach also said that an “economic recovery meeting” is to take place on Thursday.
Mr Martin told RTÉ’s This Week: “We would hope by the end of this week, that within the week we’d be in a position to announce those.
“The actual specific timelines for benefits to flow to people obviously depends on the mechanisms that we use.
“But what we want to do is to try and cushion people against the pressures that they’re currently under, because of increases in inflation, which are global.
“I don’t have a specific time. It depends just on the actual specific measures that are introduced.
“Some might be once off, some may be more sustainable in terms of reducing charges for people.”
However, the Taoiseach has ruled out deferring increases to the carbon tax set to come into force in May, which will drive the costs of home heating up further.
He said: “Climate change is a pressing reality. We have to try and avoid short termism in terms of climate change policy.
“This week, the government will be announcing a very major retrofitting programme, which ultimately will reduce the cost of household fuel bills by up to 500 a year.
“The grants will be very extensive and those who can’t afford, for example, in terms of social housing, the Government will directly be retrofitting those houses.
“It’s a major, major retrofitting programme but the funding to enable us to do that comes from the carbon tax.
“That is a redistribution of wealth too – to help those in terms of their weekly and yearly charges and costs of living. It’s a good measure for reducing emissions as well.
“We can’t keep postponing and postponing measures that are necessary for climate change.”