Readers like you keep news free for everyone.

More than 5,000 readers have already pitched in to keep free access to The Journal.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can help keep paywalls away.

Support us today
Not now
Saturday 2 December 2023 Dublin: 2°C
Shutterstock/WAYHOME studio

Almost 2 in 5 people cutting back on essential heating and electricity due to cost concerns

37% of people have cut back on essential heating and electricity use.

THE NUMBER OF people struggling financially has doubled since before the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a new poll. 

Difficulties facing many people in Ireland currently are highlighted in the new poll conducted by Red C on behalf of the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP). 

It found the number of people reporting that they are finding it difficult to manage financially has doubled since the start of the pandemic in 2020, rising from 9% to 18% last month. 

37% of people have cut back on essential heating and electricity use and 17% have cut back on other essentials, such as food, the poll found. 

A total of 48% of unemployed people and 47% of single parents have cut back on essential heating and electricity. 

37% of single parents have cut back on other essentials, such as food. 

Almost 40% of people are worried or quite worried about their ability to meet their household energy costs while a quarter are worried about their ability to meet their housing costs (rent or mortgage). 

For renters, the worry is particularly stark with over half worried about their ability to pay their rent. 9% of renters are already behind on their rent and 29% are worried about facing eviction in the next six months. 

“The importance of their research is that it explores the depth of financial worry and concern across every cohort of the population,” Dr Tricia Keilthy, SVP head of social justice and policy, said. 

“However, the data clearly shows that the groups more vulnerable to poverty, including unemployed people, single parents, and renters have found it particularly difficult to manage rising energy costs,” Dr Keilthy said. 

“It is also important to remember that better-off families tended to build up their savings during the pandemic, providing a shock absorber for rising prices, but lower income families have no saving and are already in debt,” she said. 

SVP is recommending the following short-term measures: 

  • Frontload available resources to households on fixed and low incomes through increases in core welfare payments with extra support for families with children including those in receipt of the Working Family Payment.
  • Extend the Fuel Allowance season by four weeks and keep under review.
  • Establish a discretionary fund to support households with extra living expenses and utility debt//costs. This could be facilitated through the CWO service and by relaxing the rules for Exceptional Needs Payments.
  • Establish a rent arrears fund between DSP and DHPLG to prevent a rise in homelessness.
  • Increase the limits for the Housing Assistance Payment and Rent Supplement to end the practice of top-ups.
  • Continue to monitor utility disconnection data and strengthen consumer protection measures to prevent a significant increase in disconnections.

Dr Keilthy said that immediate support must go hand in hand with measures to strengthen the social welfare system such as introducing a living wage. 

The Government is today set to announce its cost of living package, which Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said will have targeted supports, as well as a ‘universal benefit’ for all households. 

Red C interviewed a random sample of 1,036 adults online between 21 and 27 January. Interviewed were conducted with people across the country.

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel