Public in the dark as electricity prices jump
Public in the dark as electricity prices jump

An increase in electricity prices will cause further hardship to those struggling to pay bills as new figures show the Electricity Supply Board (ESB) is cutting power to 900 households per month over non-payment of bills.

The national semi-state company, which produces some of the world’s most expensive electricity, admitted it was cutting the power to 30 homes while awarding fresh pay increases to its multi-millionaire executives.

Anti-poverty charity St Vincent de Paul said the latest announcement that electricity prices are to increase again in October is of “grave concern” and will “add further to the level of fuel poverty witnessed consistently in recent years”.

“While the Government has signalled that it is preparing an energy affordability strategy, it has not yet introduced any compensation measures for the most vulnerable households in relation to the carbon tax and now these households face additional electricity costs,” the charity said.

This year the charity expects it will provide in the region of 4 million euro to help impoverished citizens to keep their lighting and heating.

Sinn Fein spokesperson on social protection, Aengus O Snodaigh TD, called on the Government to prevent electricity suppliers from cutting off customers who are struggling to pay their bills.

Deputy O Snodaigh said, “The disconnections are a direct consequence of government policy and therefore the government must urgently intervene to protect those, mostly social welfare recipients, who are affected.

“This government based their social welfare cuts on the lie that prices had come down so welfare recipients could get more for less. They ignored my advice and that of the ‘Poor Can’t Pay’ coalition. We demonstrated to government at the time that the price falls in question principally benefited better off people and that essential costs such as travel, education, health and and now energy costs are rising.

“The marked increase in the number of homes being disconnected is the logical and wholly foreseeable consequence of government cuts. I am calling on Minister O Cuiv to announce what the government will do for these families. The government must act today and not a day later.

“These families cannot be left to struggle without electricity as a result of their inability to pay the bills.”

The Minister for Social Protection Eamon O Cuiv said on Monday that he wants to see a profile of the customers whose electricity supply the ESB has been disconnecting.

There are fears the situation could worsen, once the new energy levy kicks in later this year.

Meanwhile, it has been revealed that ESB chief Padraic McManus received pay of more than three-quarters of a million euro last year. His earnings have ballooned by about 100,000 euro a year from just under half a million per annum in 2006. He was paid just under 400,000 euro in ‘bonuses’ in the past four years.

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