People struggling to pay their energy bills “will not be cut off” this winter, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has guaranteed.
Speaking at a press conference in Dublin, Mr Martin said the level of support put in place by the Government will be enough to stop people from facing being disconnection.
He said people will not be disconnected this winter unless there are extenuating circumstances — for example, not engaging with their energy provider. Mr Martin has said:
He said the measures taken of putting cash into people's accounts and reducing the bills are unprecedented.
“The measures we have taken have an impact," he said. "The impact they should demonstrably have is that people should not be cut off, by definition, given the scale of the energy credits, free fuel allowance and double payments, right across the board.
"Very substantial provision has been made right to the end of this year and into the two bill periods in early spring.”
He said social protection is there to protect people from being disconnected in the event of their making a presentation to say that if they do not get "X", their electricity will be cut off.
“The CRU has also provided strong protections with regard to this. People should not have their heating or electricity cut off in the middle of winter,” he added.
The Government will work with providers and the CRU, the statutory body regulating this area, he added.
There are now €600 in energy credits. There is a lump-sum payment of €400 to fuel allowance recipients, a double-week payment to all qualifying social protection recipients in October and the normal Christmas bonus will be paid, Mr Martin said.
He added that there is an extra €500 for recipients of working family payments and carer support grants and a double child benefit payment in November.
There is a once-off payment before Christmas of €200 to recipients of the living alone allowance and €500 to those on disability allowance, invalidity pension and the blind pension and additional funding across the board for a range of not-for-profit and voluntary organisations to help with energy costs and so forth.
“If we did not have all of those measures, I accept the point that there could be disconnections and so on. However, these measures will have impact and we will keep monitoring how this works in reality,” he said.