Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Michael Moynihan, says the latest survey results from St Vincent De Paul confirm that the Fuel Allowance and Household Benefits package must not be cut at the budget.
Deputy Moynihan said the shocking findings in the St Vincent De Paul survey reinforce Fianna Fáil’s call for the two allowances not to be cut for the 579,000 families in receipt of the payments.
“The annual cost of energy bills has risen by €500 a year, this is a shocking statistic,” said Deputy Moynihan.
“The €20 weekly fuel allowance payment is not matching pace with the increase in energy costs.
“The Government’s response to this crisis has been shameful. Minister Joan Burton cut the Fuel Allowance by 6 weeks in last year’s budget, families now only receive the payment for 26 weeks per year.
“Alongside that, Minister Pat Rabbitte has been asleep at the wheel and allowed the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) oversee 3 increases in Bord Gáis prices in 2 years. This is a shocking indictment of the Labour Party and a betrayal of the values they purport to stand for.
“We have heard stories of elderly people going to bed earlier and earlier because they cannot afford to heat their homes. The severe cold weather we had last winter that lasted into the spring meant the fuel allowance period of 26 weeks was totally inadequate.
“I would urge the Government and Ministers Burton and Rabbitte to finally stand up for the less well-off and protect these valuable allowances. My fear is that the Government will see cutting the Fuel Allowance and Household Benefits Package as an easy option. The Government needs to stop taking the easy way out and stand up for families that are struggling under the burden of high energy costs.
“Fianna Fáil will next week bring forward the Energy (Code of Conduct) Bill which will make it more difficult for energy companies to disconnect families in financial difficulty.
“The Government is failing to recognise the desperation many families are faced with. A cut to the Fuel Allowance and the Household Benefits Package must be avoided in the budget.”