The Government’s announcement that it will significantly cut the Fuel Allowance is a crude and cruel cost cutting measure that exposes the hypocrisy of the Fine Gael / Labour Government, according to Fianna Fáil Social Protection Spokesperson Barry Cowen TD.
He commented, “The Program for Government said “We will complete and publish a strategy to tackle fuel poverty” but all we have seen is a six week reduction in the fuel allowance period from 32 weeks to 26. No strategy has emerged, only cuts. This leaves old age pensioners and welfare recipients increasingly exposed to poor weather conditions and heating cost increases.
“The government has produced nothing to tackle fuel poverty, contrary to its election promises and the Program for Government. To make matters worse, Government leaks suggest that we will also see a Carbon levy tomorrow which will raise fuel prices and further put pressure on vulnerable members of the community.
“Only last year Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore bitterly criticized a rationalisation of the fuel allowance period declaring “What will happen to the pensioners who will be left in the cold until October? Is the Taoiseach going to leave them in the cold?” The last Government actually gave those in fuel poverty and additional €40 for the cold weather. The Tánaiste’s cynicism on this issue has now been exposed.
He continued, “The Fuel allowance is a crucial payment for low income households and old age pensioners. These cutbacks hit them directly and have an immediate and negative effect on their quality of life. This reduction is a regressive step that will hit the most vulnerable hardest. This approach is in stark contrast to the progressive burden sharing of the previous three budgets.
“The election promises of the Labour Party have been formally abandoned today.”