A CHARITY which is being forced to fork out millions to help struggling home owners who have had their electricity cut off has warned a new fuel levy will make the crisis worse.
The St Vincent de Paul (SVP) warned that hard-up families striving to avoid electricity cut offs for non-payment would come under more pressure with new bill hikes.
More than a thousand homes a month are having their power cut off by the ESB and Bord Gais.
An SVP spokeswoman said today that the upcoming 5pc levy on electricity would bring "more trouble" to those already struggling.
The spokeswoman told the Herald the charity was continually helping out people with their electricity bills. The charity was in regular contact with electricity providers.
St Vincent de Paul is providing €4m a year to help people pay their bills.
The ESB declared it only cut off power from homes as a last resort. But it was disconnecting the power from 900 homes each month and Bord Gais was cutting off electricity from a further 120 homes a month.
The gas company also cut off gas supplies to 230 homes a month for non-payment. The ESB stated that it had organised repayment plans for 80,000 struggling bill payers to help them keep their power supplies.
The State's community welfare officers are also empowered to make 'exceptional need payments' to people in trouble paying bills.
Around €2m has been paid out by officers so far this year.
The St Vincent de Paul charity said the upcoming levy would add further to the level of fuel poverty.
"The introduction of a carbon tax without any compensation plan in place for these groups means those in most need were already facing another bleak winter," said a spokesperson.
"The addition of an average of 5pc on household electricity bills from October is yet another blow to the most hard pressed in Irish society.
"While the Government has signalled that it is preparing an energy affordability strategy, it has not yet introduced any compensation measures for the most vulnerable households in relation to the carbon tax and and now these households face additional electricity costs.
"The pressure placed on poorer households, in particular rural households, by the carbon tax and the electricity increase must be tackled by the Government.
"We believe that 100pc of the carbon tax revenue should be ring-fenced to address Fuel Poor issues."