Cross section of NGOs urge Government to tackle cold homes and fossil fuels in Budget 2024

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Social, environmental and voluntary organisations issue joint statement on energy poverty ahead of National Economic Dialogue on Monday 12th June

A wide cross-section of social, environmental and voluntary organisations have urged the Government to take decisive action to tackle energy poverty and break our dependence on fossil fuel home-heating before next winter. The joint statement [1] from 29 organisations comes as politicians, NGOs, and academics gather in Dublin Castle for the National Economic Dialogue to discuss Budget 2024.  The groups described the latest CSO figures, which show the number of people unable to keep their homes adequately warm doubling between 2021 and 2022 [2] and reaching a record high, as an “unprecedented crisis”.

The 29 organisations [3] make 14 specific recommendations for Government to:

  • Address inadequate incomes by raising social welfare rates in line with cost-of-living increases.

  • Tackle cold homes for low-income renters and homeowners first.

  • Introduce new, targeted measures to bring down bills and guarantee everyone’s right to energy.

  • Get off fossil fuel heating and ensure a fair energy transition.

Recommendations include expanding eligibility for the Fuel Allowance and increasing core social welfare rates by €25, expanding to SEAI’s free energy upgrade scheme to ensure every renovated home is heat-pump ready and that renters on HAP are included, funding community energy advisors in every local authority, and ensuring the windfall tax is used to support those most at risk of energy poverty. 

Commenting on the publication of the joint statement:

Clare O’Connor, Energy Policy Officer at Friends of the Earth, said:

“It is powerful to see so many organisations join together to call for an end to our dependence on dirty, expensive fossil fuel heating as a core part of tackling energy poverty and ensuring warm homes for all.

“It’s also essential that Budget 2024 tackles income adequacy by raising all core social welfare payments by a minimum of €25”. 

Ciara Murphy, Environmental Policy Advocate at The Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice, said:

“Social and environmental degradation are two sides of the same coin and need common and just solutions. 

"Reducing our reliance on fossil fuels by retrofitting homes and providing more efficient social and affordable homes, can simultaneously reduce our emissions while also reducing the prevalence of energy poverty in our society. In the current environmental and housing crises we simply cannot afford to look at these problems in isolation.”

Fleachta Phelan, Senior Policy Associate at Disability Federation of Ireland, said:

“Disabled people have long lived with higher than average energy bills, due to the many extra costs of having a disability. People with disabilities use more electricity on average, and were already more likely to be in utility arrears before this cost of living crisis. 

“The percentage of people unable to work due to long-standing health problems (disability) who were unable to afford to keep their home adequately warm increased by more than 10% over the past two years – from 8.5% in 2020 to 19.6% in 2022. 

“It is deeply worrying to know that people who cannot work because of their disability or health condition are cutting back on necessary heating due to a lack of sufficient income – the health implications of this alone are alarming. The government must act to address disability poverty in Budget 2024.”

Clodagh Daly, Manager of the Centre for Environmental Justice at Community Law and Mediation, said:

“Despite declaring a climate and biodiversity emergency in 2019, Ireland's emissions remain among the highest in the EU; meanwhile, almost half of Ireland’s housing stock is energy inefficient, with many people living in poorly insulated homes that are locked into fossil fuel dependence and struggling to afford necessities such as heat and electricity. 

“It is time to prioritise bold investment in cross-sectoral initiatives that deliver long term solutions to our shared climate and energy poverty challenges.”

Michelle Murphy, Research and Policy Analyst at Social Justice Ireland, said:

“Social Justice Ireland is calling on Government to increase all core social welfare rates by a minimum of €25 in Budget 2024 and to make tax credits refundable.  These two targeted measures would directly assist people on fixed incomes and people in low paid employment who are most impacted by rising energy costs. 

“If Government does not address income adequacy, then progress in reducing the numbers of people in poverty, and the numbers of people in energy poverty will not be achieved.  Measures introduced to mitigate the impact of rising costs have so far failed to address the core issue of income adequacy, as many have been one off in nature, and others are insufficient to address the challenges that households on low incomes currently face.”

Notes for the Editor:

1. The joint statement on energy poverty is online here:

2.  CSO (2022) ‘SILC: Enforced Deprivation 2022’ 

3. The following organisations have signed the joint statement:

Age Action, Cairde, Celt, Clare PPN, Community Law & Mediation, Community Work Ireland, Cultivate, Disability Federation of Ireland, Environmental Pillar, Feasta, Friends of the Earth, Forest Friends, Green Foundation Ireland, Independent Living Movement Ireland (ILMI), INOU, International Presentation Association, Irish Heart Foundation, Irish Rural Link, Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice, Mental Health Reform, National Women's Council, Rediscovery Centre, Social Justice Ireland, Sonairte, Stop Climate Chaos, SVP, Threshold, USI, VOICE.

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