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TD Mick Barry, Ruth Coppinger, TD Richard Boyd Barrett, Cllr Hazel de Nortúin and TD Bríd Smith at the PBP-Solidarity think in Tadgh McNally/TheJournal
Cost of Living

People Before Profit call for 'radical measures' to tackle sky-high energy prices

TD Richard Boyd Barrett called for an energy price cap to be implemented by the Government.

PEOPLE BEFORE PROFIT – Solidarity have called for “radical measures” to bring down the rising cost of energy, including a price cap on electricity and gas bills and the nationalisation of energy companies.

Speaking at the party’s think-in this afternoon, Richard Boyd Barrett called for price controls to be immediately implemented by the Government to address the rising cost of electricity and gas, saying that the party had initially suggested the measure in the last Dáil term.

“We think we need radical measures to be taken urgently to address the cost of living crisis,” said Boyd Barrett.

We believe we need immediately the imposition of price controls on energy heating and electricity and a move towards taking all of the energy sector back into public ownership, where it’s done on a not for profit basis.

Boyd Barrett’s calls for an energy cap come as the UK Government look set to introduce a similar measure to tackle their sky high electricity and gas bills.

It also comes as Energia announced that they would be increasing their energy prices from 7 October, with electricity bills set to rise by 29% while gas prices would increase by 39%.

In Ireland, Environment Minister Eamon Ryan confirmed that the Government would be issuing a second electricity credit before Christmas, adding that the Government was right to hold off providing additional supports earlier this summer.

“We held back. A lot of people were arguing we should have done a mini budget in the summer and we said at the time ‘no’, because the time this is going to hit is the late autumn/ early next year.

“So I think it was absolutely right for us to hold our fire, to wait to see what the real situation was in the autumn, and that’s when we need to provide supports. That’s the right time to do it,” said Ryan.

Boyd Barrett said that PBP want to see the price of energy reduced and capped at what it was at the end of 2021, which would be a “dramatic” 20% reduction in the cost of energy.

There’s absolutely no way that people can soak up increases that are looking like they will be in the region of €1,500 to €2,000 and more, this year alone, when their incomes have barely increased, if they’ve increased at all.

When asked if PBP would support the non-payment of bills due to the high cost of energy, Boyd Barrett said that people would be “more than justified in not paying what are extortionate and profiteering prices”.

However, he said that people who will struggle the most to pay their bills are primarily on “pay as you go” meters and non-payment would not be an option.

The Commission for Regulation of Utilities has however extended the moratorium on disconnections for non-payment of energy bills, with vulnerable customers unable to be disconnected between October 2022 and March 2023.

Former PBP TD Ruth Coppinger did say that while the party did not advocate for non-payment of bills, she warned that it could happen.

“I think it’s something that the government needs to be very wary of that could happen. We have to say, like the water charges, it is something people can control,” Coppinger said.

Boyd Barrett instead called for support for a protest movement around the cost-of-living crisis, saying that people needed to mobilise on the streets to put pressure on the Government to change their policies.

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