For energy, and motor fuel, and the way they have been weaponised by the Menace in Moscow is the root of many of our problems
It was billed as the cost-of-living Budget. But it could just as well be labelled the energy-crunch relief Budget.
For energy, and motor fuel, and the way they have been weaponised by the Menace in Moscow is the root of many of our problems.
A range of one-off spending measures were announced to help people struggling to pay bills due to record levels of inflation.
And boy do we need them.
It is going to be an expensive winter when it comes to paying for heat and lighting in homes and businesses across the country.
Average household energy bills are set to shoot up by at least €2,000 a year, and that is assuming we do not get a new wave of electricity, gas and home-heating oil rises.
From the start of next month there will be hikes hitting two million households, with increases of between 20pc and 40pc.
This brings to around 60 the number of energy price rises we have had since the start of last year.
Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said that in response to the increase in energy and other prices, the Government amended its fiscal strategy for 2023.
He said this meant he was doubling the size of the tax package and increasing public expenditure in order to protect the real value of public services.
The Budget will see the introduction of a €600 electricity credit taken off energy bills in three instalments of €200 over the coming months. The first payment comes before Christmas.
There will also be a lump-sum payment of €400 before Christmas for those eligible for the fuel allowance.
However, energy bills will not be capped. The fear is that capping energy bills would just see the Government writing a blank cheque to energy companies. And let’s not forget that most of our energy providers are foreign-owned.
And capping energy costs does nothing to incentivise people to use less electricity or gas.
The fuel allowance scheme will be extended to up to 80,000 people who currently do not qualify for the payment. This will mean around 450,000 people will be able to claim the welfare payment over the coming months.
And there will be a €400 lump sum for fuel allowance recipients.
Mr Donohoe forecast in his Budget speech that inflation will come down from around 9pc at present to 7pc next year
These measures will be welcome and will go some way to offset the surging cost of keeping the lights on and homes heated.
But they certainly will not go all the way to counteracting the cost pounding household budgets are set to take this winter. And this is the key point.
Despite the Government throwing money at the energy crisis facing households and businesses, we can expect to have to pay out heavily in the next weeks.
Call it the Putin Premium, if you like, something that has seen energy costs go from a cost most households could cope with to a luxury. Energy inflation is running at 50pc-plus, so put-upon households will find it hard to escape the pinch.
Mr Donohoe forecast in his Budget speech that inflation will come down from around 9pc at present to 7pc next year.
The news that the Nord Stream gas pipeline is leaking will make that prediction less likely.
The overall cost-of-living package will be €4.1bn, including €1.4bn allocated to the new Business Energy Support Scheme (BESS).
And those business energy supports are important, and not just for firms but for consumers too.
That is because surging energy bills for small businesses will get passed on to households in the form of higher prices.
One area where there will be hikes is with carbon tax, but its impact will be nullified on petrol and diesel.
Carbon tax hikes will see a litre of diesel and petrol both rise by 2c (Vat inclusive) a litre, from October 12. But the National Oil Reserves Agency levy will come down to cancel out the carbon tax rises.
Mr Donohoe said he is extending the current excise reduction of 21c per litre in respect of petrol, 16c per litre in respect of diesel and 5.4c per litre in respect of marked gas oil (green diesel), and the 9pc Vat rate for electricity and gas until February 28.
But gas, heating oil and solid fuels are set to go up in price again from May when the carbon tax rises on them kick in.
And remember that surging prices also mean the Government takes in more in Vat receipts, even if it is keeping the special Vat rate of 9pc on electricity and gas for a few more months. The Government giveth and the Government taketh.
But what has been given should be enough of a lifeline to stave off the worst of the winter cost crunch, and no more.