LOCAL advocate for the elderly Paddy O’Brien has questioned why every household would receive the €200 energy credit as part of the Government package to mitigate the cost of living.
Supports worth €290m were announced this week, on top of the measures already taken in Budget 2022 to support households, in a package that includes a €200 energy credit for all households, extra funding for the fuel allowance payment, a reduction in the drug payment scheme to €80, the front-loading of the working family payment, and a 20% reduction in public transport fees from the end of April until the end of the year.
While Mr O’Brien said the measures would help to make the lives of the elderly who are struggling a little easier, he queried why every household would get the €200 energy credit.
“I feel that there are wealthy people in the country who will also be benefiting from this bonus,” said Mr O’Brien.
“People who are on the top salaries will not even notice a lodgement of €200 in their bank accounts.”
He suggested that those for whom the €200 would make no difference could “consider donating to the poor” through a charitable organisation.
However, speaking on 96FM’s Opinion Line, Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath said that the credit is being introduced because cutting energy taxes was not an option available to the Government. Mr McGrath said that the credit will apply in the March/April billing cycle and that people who use a pre-pay meter will benefit.
The Cork South Central representative said that he will donate his credit to St Vincent de Paul.
Mr O’Brien said that while the elderly are appreciative of the new supports “no matter the amount”, many are still struggling to pay their bills.
“Many are cut short on adequate food in order to be able to pay these bills,” he said.
“I think the elderly who are in receipt of a weekly social welfare payment but do not have a private pension are within the poverty bracket and trying to exist on this one payment weekly and I often hear of their stories of hardship.
“They are in a situation where they have to make a choice between fuel heating or heating from materials such as coal, and food,” he said.