Independent TD for Donegal, Thomas Pringle, has called on the government to extend fuel allowance to people in receipt of Pandemic Unemployment Payments (PUP).
He said Covid-19 will affect the numbers of Donegal people who experience fuel deprivation this year.
Speaking in the Dáil today to support a Private Members’ motion on household utility bill supports, Deputy Pringle said almost 500,000 people are in receipt of the Pandemic PUP.
“This pandemic has wreaked havoc on employment,” he said.
Fuel poverty was a problem before the pandemic struck, the deputy said. He referred to a study compiled five years ago by Unite the Union that examined fuel poverty on a county-by-county basis.
Deputy Pringle said at that time, more than 700,000 people across the Republic – including 30,700 people in Donegal – said they had to go without heating during the last 12 months due to a lack of money.
“Donegal was found in this Unite report to have the highest level of fuel deprivation because we also have the lowest levels of household income across the country.”
Not only are more people unemployed, but more people are working from home, leading to higher household costs, he added.
“The stress, anxiety and uncertainty of the pandemic is not something that we can control, but the government does hold the purse strings and can take certain measures to help residents across Ireland. It was a long, dark and cold January, and granting the fuel allowance to people in receipt of PUP is one easy step which should be taken immediately.”
The motion would also suspend the requirement that a person who loses their job must be in receipt of a Jobseeker’s payment for over 15 months before they can qualify for the fuel allowance, among other measures.
“I have often said that I wish this government wasn’t just reactionary, but that we were proactive.”Tags: