In response to the announcement of a 10 to 12 percentage increase in household energy prices by Bord Gáis today, Age Action is reiterating its call on the Government to expand the eligibility criteria for the Fuel Allowance and to increase the number of weeks of the year it covers from 28 to 32 to protect people from potential fuel poverty.
There is a growing divide between households in terms of the energy efficiency of their homes. Many older people cannot afford expensive home retrofitting and they are vulnerable to fuel poverty. While some older people benefit from Fuel Allowance, many do not; there are approximately 713,000 beneficiaries of the State Pension, of which 131,432 receive the Fuel Allowance (which may represent couples in some cases).
‘It is clear that the vast majority of people aged over 65 do not benefit from Fuel Allowance so the eligibility criteria need to be expanded to take account of rising cost of fuel prices and the effect of Carbon Tax. Most older people rely on the State Pension and other social welfare payments for approximately 70% of their income meaning that they simply cannot cope with the rising costs of living, including fuel’ said Nat O’Connor, Public Affairs and Policy Specialist with Age Action.
‘Any increase in Fuel Allowance should be understood as compensation for the rising cost of energy and as a way to reduce fuel poverty. It should not be presented as compensation for failure to raise the core rate of the State Pension to an adequate level. The purchasing power of the State Pension has reduced by €10.24 compared to 2019 which is why Age Action is calling for an increase of €15, and pro rata increases thresholds for other payments, to counteract its falling purchasing power and to move towards meeting the benchmark of 34% of average earnings, which is what an adequate pension should be,’ said Nat O’Connor.