Households face 8pc hike in cost of home heating
Carbon tax levied on gas and oil
HOUSEHOLDERS will be hit with hikes of up to 8pc in their fuel bills from today when the carbon tax is levied on home heating oil and gas.
As announced in the December Budget, the price of kerosene, agricultural diesels, LPG, oil and natural gas will increase in an effort to discourage use of fossil fuels and to help cut greenhouse gas emissions.
The increases will result in the price of 1,000 litres of home heating oil rising from €660 to €712.15 (up 7.9pc), while the average householder's natural gas bill will increase by €48, up 7pc, to €723 per year.
Motorists were hit with increases in petrol and diesel costs last December as a result of the tax, which increased the price by 4c for petrol and 5c for diesel.
A tax on peat briquettes and coal will be applied at a later date. This will increase the price of a bale of briquettes from €3.85 to €4.24 (10pc) while a 40kg bag of coal will rise from €15.20 to €16.99 (12pc).
The Government expects to take in €250m in 2010 from the tax, which will be used to boost energy efficiency, help those who are struggling to pay fuel bills and support rural transport. But a group representing older people said yesterday the introduction of the tax should not worsen the level of "fuel poverty" felt by those dependent on state pensions.
The Government has insisted that emergency assistance will be available to those finding it difficult to pay fuel bills as a result of the carbon levy. But a vouched fuel allowance scheme, promised to offset the price increases, will not be introduced until the end of September.
Labour Leader Eamon Gilmore yesterday accused the Government of breaking a promise to families who would be "very severely impacted" by the rise in fuel prices.
However, Tanaiste Mary Coughlan insisted families experiencing difficulties in the interim would have access to exceptional-needs measures through the Department of Social Protection.
Maureen Kavanagh, chief executive of Active Retirement Ireland which represents almost 500 retirement associations, said: "To avoid turning the carbon tax into a national crisis, the Government should clarify its plans on how it intends to administer the scheme, with particular emphasis on the measures it intends to implement to offset the cost of the tax on pensioners."