Meath West TD,Johnny Guirke, (SF), has called on the government to assist people with the cost of living as a matter of urgency.
Guirke’s comments came as Sinn Féin spokesperson on Social Protection Claire Kerrane this week published the results of the party’s survey on fuel costs.
Over 10,000 people took part, and their personal testimonies expose the shocking reality of the financial pressures ordinary workers and families face every day while the government refuses to act.
Guirke told Meath Live, “The government must act urgently to ensure workers and families get a break from the exacerbating cost of living crisis. More than 10,000 people took part in Sinn Féin’s survey to share their stories of how spiralling fuel costs are affecting them.
“Their sobering personal testimonies expose the shocking reality of how this issue is affecting people every day. It is clear that despite the government’s refusal to act, people need help urgently.
“89% of respondents said that increased costs have impacted their ability to get to work or to do other necessary activities for their families. The stories shared are shocking and heart-breaking.
“We see families sharing their own experiences of bringing a loved one to a cancer appointment, but they can only travel by car because their immune system is too vulnerable to take public transport. Their fuel costs have doubled in recent months and they are struggling to afford the costs of travelling to vital hospital appointments.
“Students have also shared their serious concerns around how fuel costs are damaging their education. They explained that they can only afford to travel to college a few days a week due to petrol costs, meaning they are missing key lectures and falling behind on their studies.
“94% of people said they are turning on their heating less often due to soaring costs.
“This should not be happening. Pensioners also spoke of feeling terrified their pension can’t keep up with these soaring costs.
“The government is refusing to act and ensure people get a break. The thousands of stories shared with Sinn Féin show that this is not acceptable. People cannot wait while this out of touch government keeps kicking the can down the road.
“We accept that the government cannot do everything, but they can do more. They must cut the cost of energy and fuel. They must go further still, but that would be a good start.
“Sinn Féin spokesperson on Finance Pearse Doherty has repeatedly called on the government to engage with the EU commission to remove VAT on energy bills for an initial three months. We are also urging them to remove excise duty from home heating oil.
“A cost of living payment of €200 to households earning less than €30,000 and of €100 to households earning €30,000 to €60,000 would also help families struggling to pay their bills in this cost of living crisis.
“Sinn Féin spokesperson on Social Protection Claire Kerrane is again calling on the Government to establish a Discretionary Fund to support households who are struggling with utility debt, and we need to see the Fuel Allowance extended to those in receipt of the Working Family Payment.
“In addition, we are calling for the existing 30-hour eligibility rule to access the Exceptional Needs Payment to be relaxed on a temporary basis. As it stands, anyone working more than 30 hours per week is locked out of the scheme.
“These are clear, common-sense actions the government could take to give workers and families the break and the breathing room they need.
“People need help urgently now. They can’t keep waiting. This government must act now, not kick the can down the road until October.”