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Energy Prices

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 14 December 2021

Tuesday, 14 December 2021

Questions (115)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

115. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications if he will consider in the absence of a reduction in VAT on domestic energy sources including electricity, a discount scheme for low and middle income households that would then be reimbursed to providers in a similar manner to the operation of the free electricity allowance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61995/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

Government is acutely aware of the impact that the recent increases in global energy prices is having on households.

This is a global phenomenon and various commentators, including the International Energy Agency, have attributed this to a range of demand and supply factors that have contributed to a tightening of the European gas market supplies and the upward trend in wholesale gas prices we have witnessed since mid 2020. The best long-term approach for Ireland to insulate consumers from volatility on international wholesale energy markets is to invest in energy efficiency, renewable energy and expand interconnection with our European and neighbouring markets and deepen internal electricity market integration.

Government’s immediate response to address the increase in domestic energy prices has been to utilise the tax and social welfare system to counter rising costs of living. Budget 2022 increased the weekly rate of the Fuel Allowance so that €914 will be paid to eligible households over the course of this winter. Increases to the Qualified Child Payment, the Living Alone Allowance and an increase to the income threshold for the Working Family Payment were also announced.

Consumers should continue to switch or engage with their supplier and many households could still save on their bills if they did so. As recently as the 9th September, switching supplier could save a customer consuming the average amount of electricity up to €313.

CRU has in place a suite of protections against disconnection that are set out in the Supplier Handbook. In brief, priority customers cannot be disconnected, while vulnerable customers are protected over winter months from 1 November to 31 March each year while a CRU moratoria on disconnections for all customers comes into effect over the Christmas period. Additionally, under the supplier led voluntary Energy Engage Code, suppliers will not disconnect a customer who is engaging with them at any time.

Furthermore, due to the ongoing pressure on households, the Government agreed today to provide a once off credit of €100 to every domestic electricity account holder, through their electricity supplier in quarter one of 2022."

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