Fianna Fáil Senator Denis O’Donovan says the introduction of the Carbon Tax at the start of May will cause undue hardship to thousands of elderly and vulnerable people as they struggle to cope financially with the exceptionally cold temperatures over the past couple of months.
Over the next 12 months, the cost of a bag of coal will increase by almost €3 while the price of peat briquettes will also increase. Senator O’Donovan says the imposition of the tax will severely impact those who are most vulnerable.
“I see no sense in bringing in the carbon tax at the beginning of next month. This will severely impact the most vulnerable people in our society. The freezing weather conditions over the past number of months means that people are spending increased portions of their budgets on fuel when they cannot afford to.
“The last thing struggling families and elderly people need is for the price of coal or briquettes to increase, I fear it will send thousands of people under the poverty line. The introduction of the tax is inequitable and it is the less well-off that will suffer most.
“The plan for the Carbon Tax was initiated before the recession hit when there were higher levels of emissions. That has all changed now and the Government has failed to take account of this. The fuel crisis that thousands of families face was acknowledged by the Government when the Fuel Allowance was extended by one week.
“Surely if the Government recognises the fuel crisis that exists, they can recognise how the Carbon Tax will impact the most vulnerable. Elderly people will not be able to afford this and I fear the number of excess winter deaths could increase as a result.
“I am calling on the Government to urgently review the imposition of the Carbon Tax and its consequences. People have seen their electricity and gas prices increase dramatically over the past year. Last year’s budget saw the Household Benefits package also hit and with the introduction of the Carbon Tax, people are despairing. It is now time for the Government to recognise this and defer its introduction.”