Elderly 'at risk' after fuel, phone benefit cuts
ANNUAL cuts of €65m in fuel and phone benefits for the poor and elderly announced last night will put an unacceptable number of vulnerable people at risk this winter, Age Action warned last night.
Social Protection Minister Joan Burton announced that the Government is to acheive €65m in savings through across-the-board cuts in fuel allowance and household benefits this autumn.
The announcement came the day after the Irish Independent revealed that Bord Gais is to seek gas price increases of up to 28pc and electricity price hikes of between 10pc and 14pc.
As of September 20, the €3.90 weekly Fuel Allowance supplement given to 150,000 welfare recipients living in areas with a ban on smoke-producing coal will be axed.
People receiving the Electricity and Gas Allowance will see their benefits reduced to 2007 levels this autumn, from the current 2,400 units to 1,800.
As of September 6, recipients of the €489 Annual Gas Allowance will see their benefits drop to €393, while those receiving the Electricity Allowance will see their monthly allowance drop from €43.80 a month to €35.80.
Age Action said the cuts would put many pensioners who were already struggling at risk this winter.
"The €65m in savings. . . come at a price, and that price is going to be paid by some of the most vulnerable in our society," spokesman Eamon Timmins said.