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Taoiseach confirms pay-as-you-go utility customers will not be disconnected if unable to top up

Mick Barry TD raised concerns about the disconnection moratorium for pay-as-you-go customers.

Image: Shutterstock/Lisa-S

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN has said that people using pay-as-you-go electricity and gas will not be disconnected if they are unable to top up their meters.

It comes days after Tánaiste Leo Varadkar told the Dáil that a moratorium on utility disconnections due to non-payment would be difficult to implement for pay-as-you-go customers.

The Taoiseach said that there were “very strong codes” and that people would not be cut off this winter.

“Well there are very strong codes, people can not be cut off and should not be cut off,” said Martin.

“We don’t want people disconnected, pretty vulnerable people and people who will find difficulty in terms of meeting their bills,” he added, speaking on RTÉ Radio One this afternoon.

“In the middle of an energy crisis of this kind, we cannot have disconnections.”

He said that the Government was working with both energy suppliers and the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) on the matter and that people could get additional supports through social welfare.

It comes after concern was raised by Solidarity TD Mick Barry, who told the Dáil on Thursday that approximately 10% of electricity users in Ireland, or 200,000 households, use a pay-as-you-go meter.

Varadkar had initially said that the moratorium on disconnections should apply to everyone, but that it would be difficult to work out for pay-as-you-go customers.

“I think it’s difficult to know how you’d apply that to pay-as-you-go customers, because of the nature of how pay as you go works. But the government can help and wants to help in these scenarios,” said Varadkar.

He specifically highlighted the fuel allowance cash payment, the expanded eligibility requirements for the fuel allowance and double payment of some social welfare.

Varadkar also said that he would be examining the issue with both Environment Minister Eamon Ryan and Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys.

Martin said that the Government was keeping the issue “under review” and that they did not want to see people in difficulty with their bills.

“We do not want to see people in difficulty with their bills. We want people to be warm.

“Anything we have to do in terms of making it more more streamlined for people to access supports in that scenario we will do,” said Martin.

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Tadgh McNally

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