Dublin: Utility Price Hikes ‘Puts Elderly Lives In Danger’ : Age Action

27 Aug

 Age Action: Utility price rise ‘puts lives in danger’

Age Action Ireland is calling on the Government to reverse its cuts to the gas/electricity unit allocation for the elderly.

The call comes after ESB Electric Ireland this afternoon announced that it is increasing its electricity bills by 12% from October 1.

The ESB is blaming international gas prices for the hike which it said have risen by 40% in the last year.

Head of Communications for Age Action Ireland, Eamon Timmins said that the price increase puts elderly people‘s lives in danger.

ALONE, the charity which supports older people in need, has also expressed “alarm and serious concern” at the impact on older people of the increase in prices.
It comes after the recent 22% increase in Bord Gáis prices, the 19% drop in allowances for gas and electricity for older persons, and a removal of the allowance for smokeless fuel.

The group said that a recent report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies in the UK entitled ‘Is there a ‘heat or eat’ trade-off in the UK?’, found evidence that significant reductions in food spending were observed in response to temperatures being colder than expected.

ALONE CEO Sean Moynihan said: “With 10% of the state pension being a mere €23, increased energy costs mean many of the older people who need our services will be faced with deepening poverty and a shocking but real choice; ‘to heat or to eat?’.”

“Our service-users are the 15% of older people already classed as vulnerable due to a range of issues such as sub-standard housing conditions, isolation, ill-health, disability and poverty.”

The group reported that last winter requests for support from them for neglected older people rose six-fold with a peak in crisis interventions during the hard freeze in December.

Mr Moynihan said: “With another hard winter forecast the cumulative effect of price rises and cuts in allowances is to create a real health risk for many older people, including the so-called hidden poor, those people who are struggling every day but who might not yet have reached out to services like ours.”

ALONE calls for an immediate response from the Government and a plan to ensure that no older person is left to suffer in freezing circumstances this winter.

ALONE, established in 1977, provides crisis supports in the community, a vital befriending service, and over 100 permanent housing units for older persons in need of support. For those with concerns, the organisation can be contacted at (01) 679 1032.

NEWS UPDATE: ADDITION:

A BIRD in the hand is worth… €382,000 actually.

Well, that’s how much the Department of Arts and Heritage spent, with the end result of increasing our national population of male corncrakes by just one bird this year.

According to preliminary census figures released by the department’s National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), this summer’s count recorded 134 calling males — an increase of one on last year. But divisional manager Pat Warner said: “I would take a one-point win this year and a win last year after almost 18 years of a decline.”

Mr Warner said it was too early to say whether the NPWS had turned the corner in trying to maintain numbers.

“Before we could say that, we would have to see growth over four to five years. But we are cautiously optimistic,” he said.

Mr Warner described the corncrake as an “iconic” bird, that was “the aural landscape of rural Ireland”.

The census reveals that there is now only one calling male in the Shannon Callows — formerly a corncrake stronghold.

The department confirmed that this year €290,000 was set aside for farmers participating in the corncrake conservation scheme and €92,000 for the scheme’s running costs.

The department said: “This project has only been under the direct management of the department in the last two years.

“Up to 2009, numbers had been on the decline each year. Since then, however, there have been tiny, positive increases in corncrake numbers.”

Mr Warner said the €290,000 payment to farmers “goes straight into the rural economy in relatively small amounts”.

The corncrake has three strongholds in Ireland: Donegal, west Connacht and the Shannon Callows.

Senior conservation officer with Birdwatch Ireland Anita Donaghy said: “The corncrake is on the verge of extinction in the Shannon Callows and that is very disappointing and very disheartening.”

Dr Donaghy said it was “absolutely necessary” that the money be spent in order for Ireland to avoid fines after a European Court of Justice ruling found the state neglected its duty to the corncrake.

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