Sinn Féin today introduced a Bill to the Dáil that would see a ban on domestic disconnections of electricity and gas during the fuel allowance season.
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Climate Action Darren O’Rourke TD said:
“This Bill would give the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the power to introduce a ban on gas and electricity disconnections over the fuel allowance season, which runs from October to April each year.
“The Commission for the Regulation of Utilities have introduced a disconnection ban throughout Level 5 restrictions. While this protection during the pandemic is welcome, we want to ensure these protections are afforded to people every winter.
“In the same way workers and families are facing financial difficulty in the current pandemic and should not have their power or heating cut off, thousands of households find themselves in the same difficult financial position each winter and deserve similar protections.
“Workers and families are already seeing big hikes in their bills as a result of the increased PSO and carbon tax. With carbon tax increases now locked in for each year for the next decade, more and more people will face financial difficulties during the winter months.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Social Protection Claire Kerrane TD said:
“We know we have a serious problem in this state with energy poverty, with about 28% of households living and experiencing fuel poverty every day.
“The Society of St Vincent de Paul tells us that one in seven lone parents are in severe energy poverty, while over 140,000 children live in homes that have issues with leaks, damp and rot.
“We know from a Department of Social Protection report that the carbon tax will have a disproportionate impact on low income households.
“This Bill is one small way we can protect these families going cold in their homes during the winter.”
Sinn Féin TD for Kildare North Réada Cronin TD said:
“In 2019, 5,008 households had their electricity disconnected for non-payment while 2,424 gas customers were also disconnected.
“Disconnection brings shame and humiliation on families and our Bill would stop this.
“Sudden inability to pay utility bills can hit any of us, and when it does, we need help, not stress and punishment. This is 2021. Heat and light are the basics of living, and should not be denied people in the coldest, darkest months.
“This Bill would allow us to do vastly better and kinder by people as a society.”