Tom lives in an old and poorly insulated rented apartment. He receives the Disability Allowance which is currently €208 and will rise to €220 at the beginning of 2023.
To help him through winter, he will receive an extra payment of €500 due to getting a disability payment, his Fuel Allowance payment (which will stay the same weekly amount) also will be boosted by a once off payment of €400 in November. He will also get a double social welfare payment in the winter, and the Christmas bonus double payment. He will receive the three electricity credits of €200 that everyone gets.
These payments combined mean he feels less worried about his energy bills this winter, which is a big relief as he pays a lot for storage heaters in his rented house. As he is on a prepay meter, he was afraid that if he didn’t have enough money to top up later in the year when he was using more heating, his power would go off completely. He still feels nervous that bills will carry on going up, and what sounds like a lot of assistance now won’t see him beyond Christmas.
Tom is still on the waiting list for social housing, which he hopes he will get at some point. Moving into social housing would mean he didn’t have to pay a rent top up to his landlord, he wouldn’t worry about being evicted if the Landlord wanted to sell, and he would hope to move into a higher standard house.
As things stand, it is unlikely his Landlord will invest in improving Tom’s apartment as there is no incentive for them to spend so much of their own money when they don’t pay the bills. In the meantime, Tom’s health will continue to be affected by the damp and mould at home, and he will have to carry on using an inhaler and steroids for his lungs.
SVP believe the government need to take action on the poor standards and energy efficiency in the private rented sector by extending grants for free energy upgrades when tenants receive HAP (based on them having a long term lease). This needs to be combined with adequate income supports – including a weekly extra payment to assist people with the extra costs of having a disability - so that Tom doesn’t have to worry about meeting his bills in the New Year.