As its negotiations with the Government continue, Fianna Fáil has called for pensioners to get at least another €5 in the budget and is also seeking other welfare-linked increases.
Budget 2019 will need to include similar increases agreed for the state pension last year, the party’s finance spokesman Michael McGrath has told the.
The Government is deciding on how to spend an extra €800m next year, between services and tax measures.
Fianna Fáil is pushing for an affordable homes package, a reduction in hospital waiting lists, as well as further supports for low-income families.
Mr McGrath said: “There has to be a significant welfare package in the budget. We are conscious that for a lot of individuals and families on fixed incomes, costs are rising, such as accommodation costs and insurance costs, and other day-to-day living expenses.
“So there will be a need for a social welfare package. We haven’t gone into the detail of negotiations around it yet, but I think it will need to be in the order of the last couple of years.”
The confidence and supply agreement between the Fine Gael-led government and Fianna Fáil states that there must be pension increases. The last two budgets increased the state pension by a total of €10 a week, between the two years. Fianna Fáil wants the equivalent increase for pensioners in Budget 2019.
Mr McGrath said: “We successfully negotiated those in the last two budgets and we will be looking for similar again in the forthcoming budget.
As the parties look to increase welfare and pensions next year, extra resources will be needed to pay for these demands as well as tax cuts. The Government is flagging that carbon taxes are likely to rise. This could add another €200m to Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe’s budget pot.
Such a move might also impact on lower-income families who rely on State-funded fuel supports.
Mr McGrath said this must also be addressed in the budget talks. “We don’t know whether the minister intends to move on carbon tax but obviously the fuel allowance is an important support for people on fixed incomes. So all of the issues are inter-related and whatever changes are made the minister has to take account of the financial realities that families are facing.”
Mr McGrath and Mr Donohoe are expected to continue talks today on the budget. Fianna Fáil will also hold a pre-Dáil meeting in Dublin.