Sinn Féin spokesperson on Social Protection, Claire Kerrane TD, has urged the government to act urgently to address spiralling coal costs.
Teachta Kerrane warned that coal costs are reaching crisis point, putting ordinary workers and families under financial pressure at a time when they are already struggling with the cost of living.
Speaking today, Teachta Kerrane said:
“Coal costs are spiralling out of control and the government must act to ensure necessary supports are put in place to protect people. Reports from around the country suggest that a bag of coal is going to increase by as much as €5 next week. This is clearly unaffordable for people already under huge financial pressure.
“Sinn Féin outlined in our cost of living package last month that a number of key measures are needed to protect ordinary people from the rising cost of living.
“One of these core proposals is to extend eligibility for fuel allowance. The current criteria is far too limited and means that many people who need support are being let down by this government.
“Sinn Féin’s proposals would ensure a further 50,000 households would have access to these much needed supports. We also outlined the need to introduce a discretionary fund of €15m to assist households with energy costs. It is clear that there is an urgent need for this and that it must include people struggling to afford to purchase coal. This will be vital in ensuring people aren’t plunged into debt and left at the mercy of moneylenders as they struggle to meet these sky high costs.
“We must ensure that this discretionary fund and any further exceptional needs payments are flexible and accessible in order to meet the needs of people who need help. It is indefensible that people would be excluded due to arbitrary rules such as working too many hours per week. Everyone who needs urgent help must be able to receive it in an accessible and timely way.
“Far too often we see this government act too little too late. Rather than appreciating the urgency of the cost of living crisis, this government is constantly out of touch and on the back foot. I am urging the government to grasp the urgency of the cost of living crisis and act now without delay.
“There can be no half measures, like we saw earlier this week with the government’s late and lacklustre plans on fuel costs. The government must act urgently, decisively and deliver for people now.
“Families are facing huge pressures as they struggle with the costs of sky high rents, petrol, childcare and groceries, to name just a few. No one should be faced with the choice of heating their home, or feeding their family. Too often, the government turns its back on this crisis and fails to support those who need it. This cannot be allowed to continue.
“The government must do everything possible to ensure families get a much needed break. It is vital that we put ordinary workers and families first and ensure they get the supports they need now.”