Sinn Féin spokesperson on Social Protection Claire Kerrane TD has demanded that the government act now to help people with the cost of living crisis.
Teachta Kerrane’s comments came as she launched the results of the party’s survey on fuel costs today. More than 10,000 people took part in the survey, which exposes the shocking reality of the financial pressures ordinary workers and families are facing every day while the government refuses to act.
Speaking today, Teachta Kerrane said:
“I am demanding that the government act urgently to ensure workers and families get a break from the cost of living crisis. More than 10,000 people took part in Sinn Féin’s survey to share their stories of how spiralling fuel costs are affecting them.
“I want to thank everyone who took the time to share their story and expose the shocking reality of how this issue is affecting people everyday. It is clear that despite the government’s refusal to act, people need to see help urgently.
“89% of respondents to our survey said that increased costs have impacted on their ability to get to work or to do other necessary activities for their families. The stories shared are shocking and heartbreaking. One family shared how their child has cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy.
“They need to take her to her hospital appointments by car, because her immune system is too vulnerable to take public transport. Their fuel costs have doubled in recent months and they are struggling to afford the costs of travelling to these vital hospital appointments.
“Students shared their serious concerns around how fuel costs are damaging their education. They explained that they can only afford to travel to college a few days a week due to petrol costs, meaning they are missing key lectures and falling behind on their studies.
“One person told us- ‘As a college student, some days I simply cannot afford to drive to college and so I am missing out on important lectures, which is obviously affecting my grades’.
“One healthcare worker shared how she had felt forced to give up her job because the cost of petrol and childcare meant she could not afford to work any longer.
“94% of people said they are turning on their heating less often due to soaring costs. One single mother spoke of how she was sitting in a freezing cost house with a sick 8 month old baby. This should not be happening. Pensioners also spoke of feeling terrified their pension can’t keep up with these soaring costs.
“86% said that they have had to cut back on essential items such as groceries, due to fuel price hikes. One person told me- ‘I work full time. My salary is 30k and I’m really struggling. I’m going hungry tonight so that I can feed my child and heat our house. I cannot afford anything anymore.
“The government is refusing to act and ensure people get a break from this cost of living crisis. The thousands of stories shared with Sinn Féin show that this is not acceptable as people cannot wait while this out of touch government keeps kicking the can down the road.
“People need help and they need it now. I accept that the government cannot do everything, but they can do more. They must cut the cost of energy and fuel. They must go further still, but that would be a good start.
“Sinn Féin is urging the government to engage with the EU commission to remove VAT on energy bills for an initial three months. We are also urging them to remove excise from home heating oil.
“A cost of living payment of €200 to households earning less than €30,000 and of €100 to households earning €30,000- €60,000 would also help families struggling to pay their bills in this cost of living crisis.
“From a social protection perspective, we are again calling on the Government to establish a Discretionary Fund to support households who are struggling with utility debt, and we need to see the Fuel Allowance extended to those in receipt of the Working Family Payment.
“In addition, we are calling for the existing 30-hour eligibility rule to access the Exceptional Needs Payment to be relaxed on a temporary basis. As it stands, anyone working more than 30 hours per week is locked out of the scheme.
“These are clear, common sense actions the government could take to give workers and families the break and the breathing room they need.
“People need help urgently now. They can’t keep waiting. This government must act now, not kick the can down the road until October.”