Sinn Féin spokesperson on Social Protection, Claire Kerrane TD, has criticised the government’s paltry measures to address fuel poverty in Budget 2022.
Figures obtained by Teachta Kerrane in response to a Parliamentary Question revealed just 7,800 households will benefit from the government’s much-hyped measures on fuel poverty.
She has warned that many thousands more will be vulnerable to fuel poverty as the cost of living crisis continues and called on the government to put in place a discretionary fund for those affected.
Speaking in the Dáil today, Teachta Kerrane told Minister Coveney:
“Every time the energy crisis is raised we are told about the Fuel Allowance as the solution and nothing else – no other new action or measures.
“I have repeatedly said that the Fuel Allowance is too limited and have raised this with the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste numerous times.
“I have now learned from a recent reply from the Minister that the increase in eligibility announced in the Budget, which is repeatedly referenced by the Government- raising the threshold by €20 will only extend the Fuel Allowance to an estimated further 4,500 households and this doesn’t kick in until January.
“The other Fuel Allowance measure announced in the Budget around Jobseeker’s will benefit an estimated 3,300 households.
“In addition to having a very limited reach, the vast majority of additional eligible households won’t see that support until January. Given the scale of the energy crisis, this is not enough.
“That is why I asked you in this House before the Budget that the government introduce a discretionary fund specifically for energy costs to assist those outside of the Fuel Allowance.
“This is something the Society of St Vincent de Paul have called for – and they spend millions every year supporting families with energy costs.
“We are hearing from families and workers struggling to make ends meet. We know the energy price crisis goes far beyond the Fuel Allowance and so I am calling on the Government to urgently put additional support for households in place.”