Thursday, 12 May 2022
Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment
169. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the measures that have been put in place by his Department to alleviate fuel and energy poverty in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23961/22]
Energy poverty is influenced by a person’s income, the energy efficiency of their home and the cost of the energy they use. The Government has put a range of policies and measures in place at national level to alleviate fuel and energy poverty. These measures supplement lower income households through the Fuel Allowance and other payments, as well as providing free energy efficiency upgrades through the SEAI schemes and the Social Housing retrofitting programme. Examples of key recent developments include:
-Budget 2022 incorporated a range of measures to support citizens with the rising cost of living. These measures included increases to weekly social welfare payments, targeted measures with increases in the living alone allowance and the qualified child increase and a €5 increase in the weekly rate of fuel allowance, with that increase implemented immediately in October. The weekly income threshold for Fuel Allowance was also increased by €20 which enables more people to qualify for this support.
-Further measures were recently announced to help mitigate the effects of rising energy costs. As part of these measures an additional lump sum payment of €125 was paid to all households in receipt of the Fuel Allowance payment. This lump sum payment, in addition to the Budget increase, will mean low-income households will see an increase of 41% this fuel allowance season when compared to last season.
-This year, 58% (€203 million) of the total Government retrofit budget of €352 million will be spent on dedicated energy poverty retrofit supports and local authority retrofits. These supports are available nationwide and are linked to a household’s individual circumstances.
-A once-off payment of €200 (inclusive of VAT) is being paid from April 2022 onwards to all domestic electricity accounts as part of the Government’s package of measures to provide further support to households in the context of increased living costs.
In addition to the measures outlined above, the Commission for Regulation of Utilities has in place a suite of protections against disconnection that are set out in the Supplier Handbook. In brief, priority customers cannot be disconnected, while vulnerable customers are protected over winter months from 1 November to 31 March each year. Additionally, under the supplier led voluntary Energy Engage Code, suppliers will not disconnect a customer who is engaging with them at any time. Accordingly, any customers who are experiencing difficulties with their Bills should engage with their supplier to discuss the various options and assistance available.
170. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the methodologies, reports, databases, statistics and all other relevant sources used by his Department to measure fuel and energy poverty; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23962/22]