Many older people “just can’t cope” with the ongoing increases in fuel prices – and can’t wait until the next budget for supports.
The charity ALONE has issued the warning after one of Ireland’s largest solid fuel suppliers said it would be increasing the price of a bag of coal by €7 in the coming weeks.
CPL fuels said the increase was based on the rising costs of materials and the war in Ukraine.
It said the price of a bag of coal would increase by €4.50 from today, with a further €2.50 increase on the cards for April 4th.
The price had already increased by €3 last September.
On Breakfast Briefing this morning, ALONE CEO Seán Moynihan said older people “just can’t cope” with the increases.
“We understand that there is only so much to go around and we understand they can’t insulate us all from these increases – but we do need those targeted measures because ultimately people who are on fixed incomes, people who are on low incomes and the poor, they just can’t cope with this,” he said.
“We are talking about heating, we are talking about rent, we are talking about food.
“We are not talking about protecting people from the loss of any luxuries or anything. These are the things that determine people’s quality of life and their health.”
Mr Moynihan noted that the Programme for Government aims to ensure that the State pension reaches one-third of the average industrial wage – something it is currently nearly €40 short of.
He said something must be done now – warning that older people can’t wait until the next budget for increased supports.
“People need to realize that social protections and pensions, a lot of people have put 40 or 50 years in stamps to get them but yet it is literally around the poverty lines,” he said.
“Ultimately, we either need to do something around food allowances or controls on certain prices or we need to intervene on the pension.
“We don’t feel this will wait until we get to the next budget – unfortunately the increases here are far too substantial and what is at risk is far too substantial.”
The ALONE CEO said around one-in-ten older people were struggling to pay their heating bills even before this winter’s inflation – noting that the figure is now “hugely increased”.
He said the fuel allowance needs to be widened out to include more people.
“The number of older people and people on fixed incomes getting caught up in this is much wider than that,” he said.
“I think everybody will accept that – especially now as we are expecting increases in the prices bread and the basics of life.
“So ultimately, what we need to do is start that conversation and see where the line is and decide how do we make sure that, basically, where people are already making difficult choices, they are not really pushed into very difficult and very challenging situations.”