Age Action has warned that proposals for the introduction of a carbon tax must protect the most vulnerable older people from the impact of higher fuel prices.
The older people’s charity welcomes the declaration in the Commission on Taxation report published today that “specific arrangements be put in place to ensure that those who experience energy poverty will be fully protected from the impacts in term of price rises”.
The report also states that revenue raised from the carbon tax be used to combat fuel poverty, with a bias towards schemes that target energy efficiency.
It states there may be a need to introduce monetary payments though the Social Welfare system, and to provide grants to households for insulation and other energy saving measures.
While accepting the need for a carbon tax, Age Action believes the new tax should not be introduced until the necessary measures are in place to protect frail, older people who are already struggling to afford the energy to heat their homes.
Age Action spokesman Eamon Timmins said: "While the aim of the carbon tax is to change the behaviour of users, nobody wants to create a situation where an older person, faced with an inadequate income to meet the rising cost of energy, opts to cut back on either heat or food,”
"The people we are most concerned about are older people on low incomes, living alone in poorly insulated homes, and those who have a disability.”
"While today’s report talks of using the carbon tax revenue to help vulnerable people insulate their homes, the McCarthy (An Bord Snip Nua) report in July recommended that the €100m expenditure on energy efficiency schemes be cut by €40m. Before the carbon tax is introduced the Government must ensure it puts in place measures to ensure it does not cause untold suffering to its most vulnerable citizens."
Age Action welcomes the Commission on Taxation’s recommendation that home owners on low incomes can apply for waivers for their property tax liabilities.
The older people’s charity also believes that recommendations to encourage greater uptake of private pensions is welcome, especially measures to kick-start pension provision, and measures for those on low incomes.