Sinn Féin spokesperson on Social Protection, Claire Kerrane TD, has demanded the government take urgent action to help people affected by crippling energy costs, following the announcement by Bord Gáis that customers will see huge increases to their bills.
“It is clear that we are in a serious cost of living crisis and the government must act urgently to help workers and families. Energy costs are out of control and we need to see action now, without any delay.
“On top of the soaring costs that people have been under real pressure from, we are set to see even more rises in home energy costs over the coming months.
“The scale at which costs are set to rise is unprecedented and deeply concerning.
“Workers and families are struggling to heat their homes and it is clear that urgent action is needed from the Government. The measures announced by Government in recent weeks, while welcome, do nothing to address the spiralling cost of home heating.
“For example, the extended Fuel Allowance will be provided only to those who already quality for the payment, and the Supplementary Welfare Allowance is only available to people working less than 30 hours per week.
“Recent research has found that 37% of people have cut back on essential heating and electricity use and 17% have cut back on other essentials such as food. This is totally unacceptable. Despite this, many working households continue to be locked out of access to support with spiralling energy costs.
“Sinn Féin are once again urging the government to establish a Discretionary Fund to support households who are struggling with energy costs and who are locked out of social welfare supports. We also need to see the Fuel Allowance extended to those in receipt of the Working Family Payment, which is a payment for provided to low-income working households.
“It is urgent that the Government take further action on soaring home heating costs and that they take it now. Far too often, the government drag their heels and fail to act when people need it. We need to see urgent action that reflects the scale of this crisis. People are under huge financial pressure and they need a break from these spiralling costs now.”