Home NewsSVP see 50% increase in calls for energy help
23 May 2023
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SVP see 50% increase in calls for energy help
Members of SVP are currently seeing the hardship caused by ongoing high energy prices.
Last year the Society saw a 40% increase in requests for assistance related to energy. In the first quarter of 2023 energy requests increase a further 50% against the same period last year. This is part of a wider trend of our overall requests rising by approximately 20%.
These figures were presented to members of the OireachtasJoint Committee on Environment and Climate Action by Issy Petrie, SVP Research and Policy Officer.
Issy Petrie said that SVP are supporting many households who are facing multiple bills. Bills that they cannot clear before the next one comes through. The situation continues to be extreme for prepay customers, who face self-disconnection when there is simply no more money to feed the meter.
She said that, "People are forced to make strategic choices between essentials.Food through the week, or energy through the week? "No one should be faced with that dilemma. This takes its toll on people emotional, mental and physical health. Our members see that distress when they are assisting people.” she said.
A key point made in the SVP presentation is that while we have left winter behind, we are still facing an energy price, and energy poverty, crisis: it is now that we need to be stepping in with people’s bills and addressing the risks facing prepay customers.
"Ongoing energy costs will continue to be unaffordable for many throughout summer, and we need to enter next winter having learnt lessons from this year.
"We also need to make sure our longer-term strategies are adequate in the face of ongoing higher prices, higher levels of energy deprivation and a rapidly changing energy landscape".
A number of proposals are made in the SVP presentation.
The need to keep core social protection rates in line with inflation.
Fuel Allowance. While ad hoc energy support payments provided essential support to households, we are now faced with a severely devalued Fuel Allowance with the rate frozen. The Fuel Allowance also doesn’t reach everyone who is in energy poverty. We are particularly concerned about people on the Working Family Payment, including the 103,000 children in these families.
There should be targeted action on energy prices through a government-subsidised social tariff. To provide a discounted energy tariff for households on means-tested social welfare payments. This would enable the government to provide focused support to offer stable costs on an essential service and respond to market conditions.
We need to see further action on our consumer protection infrastructure. To ensure the experiences and voices of consumers are clearly heard in the market. SVP would like to see further monitoring and research as part of a consumer protection strategy from the Regulator. And a new consumer advocacy agency.
Finally, and crucially, SVP proposes a new service of Community Energy Advisors. That provides one-to-one support for people to navigate the energy market, access financial supports, provide energy efficiency advice and easy measures at home, and access retrofitting grants. This is needed to support people through the price crisis and ensure a just energy transition in coming years.