Calls for government to review fuel allowance which ended last month

By Echo Reporter

Sinn Féin TD Seán Crowe has urged the outgoing government to review again the fuel allowance, which ended on April.

He made the call due to serious concerns regarding the impact of the current long, cold spell on vulnerable families and individuals.

Social Welfare office 

Deputy Crowe claimed that 2,800 people died last year from medical conditions that are directly linked to fuel poverty.

The fuel allowance payment from the Department Social Protection has a cut-off date of the April 1, but the Dublin South West TD believes that it doesn't take cognisance of weather conditions.

Arguing that the allowance should be extended until the end of May, or until the cold period passes, Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“There are between 200,000 and 400,000 households in chronic fuel poverty in this state, including the elderly and those with a disability, who more susceptible to the cold. These groups have a greater dependency on the fuel allowance.

“The current payment is €22 a week, but it begins on the January 1 and ends on the April 1, which is far too soon. 
“The fuel allowance support needs to be extended to reflect Ireland’s current cold conditions and weather patterns in recent years. The payment from the Department of Social Protection isn’t fit for purpose and needs to be more flexible.

“Irish weather patterns, in recent years, also suggest that this payment period doesn’t reflect the need or reality of many households in fuel poverty.

“The island of Ireland currently has the highest levels of excess winter mortality in Europe, with an estimated 2,800 excess deaths during each winter.

“Research has also shown that people over the age of 65 are seven times more likely to be hospitalised as a result of cold temperatures, compared to a younger age group.

“Fuel poverty occurs when a household needs to spend more than 10 per cent of its income on energy in order to maintain an acceptable level of heat throughout the home.

“Hospitals and Accident and Emergency wards across the country are currently inundated with people suffering from pneumonia, hypothermia and other severe bronchial conditions.

“Surely, this should be another indicator that it would be a rational decision to extend the fuel allowance scheme to those in need.

“I am calling on the outgoing government and the Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton to do the right thing. They should, as a matter of urgency, agree an extension of the fuel allowance scheme till the end of May or until this cold period passes.”

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