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Sunday 1 October 2023 Dublin: 17°C
Sasko Lazarov/ There has been a high number of people seeking support from St Vincent de Paul in recent months
# energy poverty
Cost-of-living pressures led 230,000 people to seek help from St Vincent de Paul last year
Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe said falling inflation was not a cause for celebration.

THE NUMBER OF people seeing assistance for energy poverty has risen significantly in the last year, according to the Society of St Vincent De Paul (SVP).

The charity is due to outline the increase in people seeking supports this morning at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Social Protection.

SVP is due to tell TDs and Senators that it received 230,000 requests for assistance in 2022, an increase of 20% compared to 2021.

Yesterday, Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe told reporters that, even though inflation is falling, the cost of living still remains higher than it was in 2022.

Last week, the CSO reported that the annual rate of inflation had dropped to 6.3% in April, falling from 7% in the 12 months up to March.

He said that falling inflation levels were a cause for recognition “but not one of celebration”.

“Because for lots the cost of buying their groceries, the cost of filling up a tank of diesel is still too high,” Donohoe said.

The charity is due to tell the committee that requests for help in the first quarter of 2023 were significantly above the numbers seen in 2022.

“The first quarter of this year has seen approximately 19% more requests for assistance to SVP overall, and an approximate 50% increase in requests for help with energy when compared to the first quarter of 2022,” SVP will say.

“This year, we are seeing the levels and the concentration of need amongst people in energy poverty increase: people are seeing multiple bill cycles pile up and people are returning to SVP for support.”

The charity is also due to say that despite it coming to the end of the ‘heating season’, fuel will not become more affordable despite a drop in usage.

SVP is expected to tell committee members that people on low incomes have been faced with “impossible situations” over the winter months.

“Put simply, the choice has been between knowing that costs and arrears are spiralling and the next bill will be unpayable, finding money from the food bill to put twice as much in the prepay meter, or people having to cut back and go without the energy they need,” SVP will say.

The Journal previously reported that the high cost of energy was a significant issue for households, with some readers outlining their difficulties in managing bills.

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