Pay-as-you-go gas and electricity users ‘forgotten’ - Cork TD

The issue has become a live controversy since Socialist Party and Solidarity TD for Cork North Central Mick Barry raised it at Leaders Questions with Tánaiste Leo Varadkar last Thursday
Pay-as-you-go gas and electricity users ‘forgotten’ - Cork TD

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said at the weekend that there should be no disconnections and indicated that social welfare offices should be part of the solution.

A CORK TD has criticised the Government for “forgetting about” pay-as-you-go gas and electricity customers in the disconnections moratorium.

The issue has become a live controversy since Socialist Party and Solidarity TD for Cork North Central Mick Barry raised it at Leaders Questions with Tánaiste Leo Varadkar last Thursday.

Mr Varadkar said that pay-as-you-go customers had effectively been excluded from the moratorium but added that the issue needed to be looked at again.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said at the weekend that there should be no disconnections and indicated that social welfare offices should be part of the solution.

Mr Barry said that many people feel that a visit to a community welfare officer is a “humiliating experience” and that some will skip meals and endure disconnection rather than being forced down that route.

He said that prepay disconnections could be banned until the end of the winter, not just on weekends and bank holidays.

“It’s clear that the pay-as-you-go customers are the forgotten people as far as the State is concerned and that people would have been left to fend for themselves if the issue hadn’t been raised in the Dáil last week,” said Mr Barry.

“I will continue to vigorously raise the issue in the Dáil until such time as a fair and just solution is put in place.”

Cork TD Mick Barry said that many people feel that a visit to a community welfare officer is a “humiliating experience” and that some will skip meals and endure disconnection rather than being forced down that route.
Cork TD Mick Barry said that many people feel that a visit to a community welfare officer is a “humiliating experience” and that some will skip meals and endure disconnection rather than being forced down that route.

Mr Barry said it would not be practical to distribute additional needs payments through the social welfare system as suggested by the Taoiseach.

There are now fewer than 400 community welfare officers in the country, down from around 800 a decade ago, meaning that individual waiting times have increased to about 30 minutes per call.

“What is it going to be if you need additional needs payments for your electricity bills when the weather gets cold? asked Mr Barry.

“Also, a lot of community welfare offices have been closed. In Cork City, they can get pretty crowded. You would have queues stretching out the doors, with the winter weather kicking in.”

Mr Barry said many people will choose to turn off the gas or electricity for 24 hours until the next wage packet, or may choose to skip meals.

He also proposed an emergency credit of €100 or more for gas and electricity for the winter.

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