Go cold or go hungry - the reality across Tipperary says Martin Browne TD

Noel Dundon

Reporter:

Noel Dundon

Email:

nd@tipperarystar.ie

The myths and facts about heating your home this Christmas

Many homes in Tipp are forced to choose between food or heat

Nearly half  Tipp people go without proper heating because of the cost and some are forced to chose between heat and food.

As we are asked to protect public health by staying at home during the Covid crisis, many people across Co Tipperary are facing another health crisis behind closed doors – energy poverty.

Before Christmas Sinn Féin carried out a survey on fuel poverty which revealed how only a quarter of those surveyed said that their heating keeps them warm in winter.

Nearly half go without proper heating because of the cost and some are forced to chose between heat and food.

While the most vulnerable are particularly impacted, the study also found that the problem is widespread.  It affects young families and older people, those who are working and the many people who are unemployed, renters and people who are paying mortgages.

St Vincent de Paul estimates that energy poverty affects one in six households in Ireland and that a significant proportion of households will be in energy debt as we emerge from the Covid pandemic, due to the rising number of households in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment.

Tipperary TD Martin Browne (SF)

Many households who find themselves on a reduced income as a result of the pandemic are ineligible for the fuel allowance due to the limited qualifying criteria.  This criteria does not consider the financial impact of the pandemic and the urgent support these households need during difficult winter months.

To address this, Sinn Féin is this week bringing a motion to the Dáil calling on the government to:

Suspend the requirement that a person who loses their job must be in receipt of a Jobseeker payment for over 15 months before they can qualify for the Fuel Allowance, for the duration of the pandemic, and to review the qualifying period after that.
To extend the Fuel Allowance of €28 per week to PUP recipients.
To establish a discretionary fund for Covid-19 utility debt in order to provide assistance to those struggling with Covid-19-related heating and electricity costs.
To ensure that the budget for Exceptional Needs Payment is sufficient, as well as ensuring access to and flexibility from Community Welfare Officers.
To make a double payment of the fuel allowance to all existing recipients for two weeks in February.
I call on all Tipperary TDs to support this motion.

* If you are worried about keeping the lights on or keeping your home warm, please know you are not alone. It is ok not to be ok. Please reach out and talk to someone you trust. You can also contact the Samaritans on 116 123 or Pieta House on 1800 247 247.

* You can seek financial advice and support confidentially from MABS (the Money Advice & Budgeting Service through their helpline 0761072000.Alternatively, your local SVP may offer help

MABS has provided some advice on how to save energy around the home.  You may qualify for the SEAI’s Better Energy Warmer Homes Scheme. For more information, visit Citizen’s Information or the SEAI website.