(31 March 2022) Age Action is calling on the Government to reintroduce the Energy Guarantee for Older Persons, which would provide a minimum quantity of energy for all older persons, as part of a comprehensive new national energy poverty strategy. The call comes as the latest price increases of 23.4% for electricity and 24.8% for gas were announced by Electric Ireland.
“An Energy Guarantee for Older Persons is a cash payment indexed to the changing cost of energy, so that older persons will always be assured of a minimum quantity of energy to keep their homes warm. This is urgently needed as most older persons are on modest or low incomes, which are often fixed or declining. Many will be simply unable to cope with the extreme price rises we have seen this year, which come on top of last year’s already substantial price hikes” said Nat O’Connor, Age Action’s Policy Specialist.
“Many older persons live in poorly insulated homes, which are expensive to heat, and most of them cannot afford a major retrofit. The Government’s main policy is a Fuel Allowance payment, but two-thirds of older persons do not receive this, which means they are also not eligible for the free scheme under the National Retrofit Plan. From 1968 to 2012, people aged 70 or older were granted up to 2,400 units of electricity per year, or the equivalent in gas, which protected them from sudden price shocks. This protected older persons during the oil crises of the 1970s and other recessions, and the absence of that safety net has been badly exposed by the extreme price rises this year and last year” said O’Connor.
“Age Action’s proposal for an energy guarantee for older persons can be funded by part of the €3 billion that the Government has set aside from carbon tax revenue for social protection measures between now and 2030” O’Connor concluded.