Rate of fuel poverty in Ireland is not understood by government
Progressive carbon tax on corporations, fossil fuel and related industries
At a media conference in Dublin today People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith said that the governments proposed carbon tax punishes the wrong people and that the government are pushing this ill-thought measure despite the fact that they have not completed the required due diligence on the rate of fuel poverty in Ireland.
The TD said that she had requested that the government commission a report into the extent and nature of fuel poverty across all sectors of the population and the short, medium and long-term impact of increased carbon taxation on all cohorts prior to taking a decision to increase carbon taxation.
She pointed out that this request was made on the grounds that it was premature to make any recommendation about the introduction of increased carbon taxation without clear empirical evidence about the short, medium and long term impacts of such a measure on energy and fuel poverty.
Joining Deputy Smith at the media conference were a number of people representing different groups in society who are particularly affected by fuel poverty.
Bríd Smith TD said:
“I think it is highly reckless of this government to propose the increase of the carbon tax on ordinary people who have no alternative to heat their homes. Logic would tell you that policy makers should understand the facts on the ground before making a decision to try and punish people with extra taxation not knowing the rate of fuel poverty on the ground.
“The government are extremely keen, ideologically, to put the blame for carbon emissions on people who have no alternative to the carbon infrastructure they have available to them to heat their homes. Instead they seem all too happy to let the real polluters, the corporation and the fossil fuel and related industries, away with poisoning the atmosphere whilst engaging in carbon trading on the world markets to mask Ireland laggard climate status.
“Not only is government policy shielding some of the worst polluters from the repercussions of their actions, but they are actively supporting their climate sabotaging activities. As Sean Healy of Social Justice Ireland noted in Friday’s Irish Independent: the CSO estimates between 2012 and 2016 €4bn per annum was foregone through potentially environmentally damaging subsidies and in 2016 alone €2.5bn went in direct subsidies and preferential tax treatment supporting fossil fuel activities in Ireland.
“I am calling on the government to rule out any increase on the individual carbon tax in Budget 2020 and into the future and instead put a progressive carbon tax on the profits of the fossil fuel corporations and fossil fuel related industries.
“The government must compile a comprehensive investigation into the rate of fuel/energy poverty in Ireland and its impact particularly on low income households, rural dwellers, lone parents, Travellers and older people.”
Gerry Loftus, a Hill Farmer from Co. Mayo joined the media conference and spoke about his experience:
“It is despicable that this Government is proposing to burden the most vulnerable in society with a carbon tax, while successive governments have failed to address our emission targets over this past twenty years – a failure which will cost taxpayers billions of Euro in fines from 2020 to 2030.”
Clare Carey, a retiree who was refused Fuel Allowance because her and her husband’s combined gross income places them above the Department of Social Protection’s allowable income limit struggles to pay her heating bills.
“We worked hard –my husband and I – and we thought that that would allow us a little security when we retired. That’s sadly not the case. Instead, we’re being penalised for having worked and being in receipt of small pensions. I think that the situation is very, very unfair.”
Louise Bayliss from SPARK, which represents lone parents said:
“Lone parent families, as the poorest section in society, are very vulnerable to the cost of heating their homes over the winter months. They are the group who seek assistance from charities such as SVP more so than the general population. Lone parents already conserve fuel due to financial necessity, a further levy will not change their consumer pattern, just impoverish them further. carbon tax will cripple lone parent families already in fuel poverty. A lot of lone parents are in rental accommodation and have no control over the fuel efficiency of their rented homes. ”