Sinn Féin spokesperson on Social Protection Claire Kerrane TD has called for the extension of the Fuel Allowance to recipients of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment.
She has said that recent bad weather, combined with increased public health restrictions that will put tens of thousands of people out of work, mean that this emergency measure is desperately needed.
Teachta Kerrane said:
“This week, tens of thousands more workers will be out of work due to the introduction of enhanced Covid-19 restrictions and will be reliant on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment.
“Many of these workers and their families are relying on substantially reduced incomes at a time of very difficult weather.
“This highlights the necessity to ensure that workers and families can afford to heat their homes adequately at a time when people will be spending most of their time at home.
“A recent survey by my colleague Senator Lynn Boylan showed that more than half of respondents go without heat because of the cost, while two thirds found it difficult to afford fuel.
“Fuel poverty is rife. It affects young families and older people, those who are working and those who are unemployed, renters and people who are paying mortgages.
“Addressing energy poverty must become a priority for this government. The last strategy to combat energy poverty lapsed in 2019 and here we are in 2021 and the situation has deteriorated. The government must produce a new energy poverty strategy.
“In the short-term, the government should support Sinn Féin’s call to extend the Fuel Allowance to PUP recipients.
“They must also urgently review the requirement that a person who loses their job must be in receipt of jobseekers payments for fifteen months or more before they can qualify for the Fuel Allowance. The Minister for Social Protection must consider suspending this requirement during the Covid-19 pandemic.”