Age Action: Utility price rise 'puts lives in danger'

Age Action Ireland is calling on the Government to reverse its cuts to the gas/electricity unit allocation for the elderly.

Age Action: Utility price rise 'puts lives in danger'

Age Action Ireland is calling on the Government to reverse its cuts to the gas/electricity unit allocation for the elderly.

The call comes after ESB Electric Ireland this afternoon announced that it is increasing its electricity bills by 12% from October 1.

The ESB is blaming international gas prices for the hike which it said have risen by 40% in the last year.

Head of Communications for Age Action Ireland, Eamon Timmins said that the price increase puts elderly people's lives in danger.

ALONE, the charity which supports older people in need, has also expressed "alarm and serious concern" at the impact on older people of the increase in prices.

It comes after the recent 22% increase in Bord Gáis prices, the 19% drop in allowances for gas and electricity for older persons, and a removal of the allowance for smokeless fuel.

The group said that a recent report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies in the UK entitled 'Is there a ‘heat or eat’ trade-off in the UK?', found evidence that significant reductions in food spending were observed in response to temperatures being colder than expected.

ALONE CEO Sean Moynihan said: "With 10% of the state pension being a mere €23, increased energy costs mean many of the older people who need our services will be faced with deepening poverty and a shocking but real choice; 'to heat or to eat?'."

"Our service-users are the 15% of older people already classed as vulnerable due to a range of issues such as sub-standard housing conditions, isolation, ill-health, disability and poverty."

The group reported that last winter requests for support from them for neglected older people rose six-fold with a peak in crisis interventions during the hard freeze in December.

Mr Moynihan said: "With another hard winter forecast the cumulative effect of price rises and cuts in allowances is to create a real health risk for many older people, including the so-called hidden poor, those people who are struggling every day but who might not yet have reached out to services like ours."

ALONE calls for an immediate response from the Government and a plan to ensure that no older person is left to suffer in freezing circumstances this winter.

ALONE, established in 1977, provides crisis supports in the community, a vital befriending service, and over 100 permanent housing units for older persons in need of support. For those with concerns, the organisation can be contacted at (01) 679 1032.

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