Spiralling energy costs underline need for fuel allowance increase
Sinn Féin Social Affairs spokesperson Seán Crowe TD has called on the Government to prioritise a substantial increase in the fuel allowance in this year's budget following massive proposed increases in gas and ESB bills last week. Deputy Crowe pointed out that the weekly fuel allowance in 1985 was €6.35 and twenty years later had increased only to €14.
The Dublin South West TD said: "It is only three years since the publication of a report entitled Fuel poverty and Policy in Ireland and the European Union. This damning report found that one in ten Irish households suffer from fuel poverty with as many as 2,000 winter deaths in Ireland associated with fuel poverty and domestic energy inefficiency.
"If the increases in gas and electricity prices are approved, this will mean increases of 91 and 80 percent respectively over the last five years, while the fuel allowance has increased only 120% over the last twenty years. I appreciate and welcome the increase of €5 a week in the 2006 Budget, but the reality is that this increase will be wiped out and then some by the proposed fuel increases for 2007 and was long overdue in any case.
"Fuel poverty is not just, as is often suggested, an issue of concern only to senior citizens. The report pointed out that incidence of fuel poverty was highest among low-income groups including lone parents and the unemployed." ENDS