“Out-of-touch government doing nothing to address rising Energy and Fuel costs” – Matt Carthy TD
Cavan Monaghan Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy, has called on the government to wake up to crisis caused by rising energy and fuel costs by delivering a financial package to support workers and families.
Deputy Carthy criticised the government parties for voting against a Sinn Féin amendment to the Finance Bill that would have required them to explore measures to reduce the cost of household energy bills for struggling families. He also criticised the Taoiseach for repeatedly stating what, in his view, government can’t do rather than bringing forward proposals that will help those who are struggling with increased bills.
During a debate on economic recovery with the Taoiseach last week Deputy Carthy told the Dáil:
“We cannot talk about economic recovery without talking about a cost-of-living crisis facing many families and workers across an array of areas, whether it be the huge rents and mortgages costs, the insurance costs that are still crippling people or childcare costs.
“In particular, the issue that comes up time and again is the cost of home heating and motor fuel, which is putting people over the edge. I know people who are missing meals in order to be able to travel to work. Regardless of what you might talk about, whether it is the fuel allowance or anything else, the vast majority of people who are getting up in the morning to travel to work have had no support from the Government.
“I acknowledge that the Government is not responsible for the global issues that have led to the high cost of fuel, but it has done nothing to help. In fact, its response in the budget was to increase those costs further through the carbon tax. Has the Taoiseach spoken to the European Commission with regard to reducing the VAT rate on motor fuel and home heating costs? That needs to be done and it needs to happen quickly”.
In his response An Taoiseach simply said that he cannot bring VAT rates to zero (under EU rules), but repeatedly failed to answer Carthy’s question as to what government will do.
Speaking afterwards Deputy Carthy said:
“The government has failed to get a grip on the soaring cost of energy and needs to wake up.
“There have been over 35 price hikes announced by energy suppliers since the start of the year. In the twelve months to October energy prices rose by 25 percent:
“The cost of home heating oil, the main fuel source for home heating in 37 percent of homes, rose by a staggering 71 percent.
“Motor fuel costs are reaching record high levels.
“Where other governments throughout Europe have acted, this government is asleep at the wheel. They have done nothing to support families and workers affected – in fact they have made matters worse through their carbon tax hikes.
“In Spain, VAT on electricity bills has been slashed by 11 percent.
“In the Czech Republic, VAT on gas and electricity has been removed entirely for the rest of the year.
“In Italy, the government has rolled out a €5.3 billion package to slash VAT, remove electricity and gas charges and expand the social bonus that discounts the cost of gas and electricity.
“In contrast, this government has failed to act, even as winter begins to bite and energy prices soar.
“Last week, government parties voted against a Sinn Féin amendment to urgently examine measures to reduce domestic energy bills for households.
“Refusal to act will come at a great cost for workers and families struggling to light and heat their homes this winter.
“Sinn Féin has called on the government to take every action possible to reduce energy costs for households – including negotiations with the Commission to remove VAT on domestic energy bills.
“They rejected these proposals out of hand.
“We have called on the government to explore discount schemes on domestic energy bills that operate in other jurisdictions to protect low and middle-income households from energy price hikes – these too were rejected out of hand.
“Sinn Féin have called for the government to expand the eligibility criteria for the fuel allowance to ensure it can be accessed by more households – this too was rejected by government.
“Unless this out-of-touch government wakes up to the energy crisis, many workers and families will struggle this winter.
“It is for this reason that Sinn Féin is calling for a financial package to be brought forward without delay.”