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Councillor calls for more fuel allowance 04.09.08

A BUNCRANA councillor has called on the Government to extend the fuel allowance into the summer and autumn months as unseasonal weather hits householders hard.
Cllr Pádraig MacLochlainn said rising fuel costs combined with deteriorating summer weather meant people were increasingly needing their heating on in summer at much higher costs.
“The un-seasonal rainfall over the last two summers means many people have to use their heating systems to dry clothes and even just to keep warm at times. There is also the fact that many older people are in need of their heating all year round. Combined with rising fuel costs this means that many people are facing extra costs they simply cannot afford," said the Sinn Féin councillor.
The National Fuel Scheme is intended to help Irish households dependant on long-term social welfare or Health Service Executive (HSE) payments and who are unable to provide for their own heating needs.
The scheme operates for 30 weeks from the end of September to mid-April.
Cllr MacLochlainn said there was now a clear case for the scheme to be extended.
“Fuel poverty is a very real issue and is measured when a household needs to spend more than 10% of their income on energy costs to heat their homes.
“The Government must plan to eradicate fuel poverty similar to that planned by the Northern executive, who have produced a Fuel Poverty Strategy which commits to eliminating fuel poverty by 2020."
He outlined a study during the peak of the Celtic Tiger in 2001, showing that 227,000 Irish homes experienced fuel poverty.
"Given the difficult economic circumstances and the rising cost of fuels this figure has no doubt increased.
“With all of this in mind I would appeal to the Minister for Social and Family Affairs Mary Hanafin as an interim measure to look into the prospect of extending the fuel allowance to keep payments going all year round.”
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