St Vincent de Paul says families give up on heating in struggle to afford basics


Families are choosing to go without heating their homes as they struggle to afford the basics, according to the president of St Vincent de Paul Geoff Meagher.

He said yesterday the budget was unfair on working families and did nothing to protect the vulnerable.

“It’s not just this budget, it’s the result of a cumulative effect of tough budgets that have happened in the past few years. They are pushed into poverty when they cannot afford the basics such as food, heating and education, with fuel being the first thing to go as it is usually most expensive.”

According to the SVP, families with children represent the largest group requesting its help. Mr Meagher said: “A couple with three children – homeowners with one parent in employment and a child in university – are likely to be affected by the introduction of the property tax, the cut to child benefit, the abolition of the PRSI allowance, the increase in the drugs payment scheme threshold and the increased student contribution charge.”

He said families on low incomes were barely surviving and were being pushed over the edge into poverty.

“There are elements of Budget 2013 that can be welcomed, such as the protection of basic social welfare rates and those changes designed to generate employment. But this budget is neither fair nor progressive,” he said.

SVP said the number of calls it has received since 2008 has increased by 80 per cent.

While the organisation was prepared for the seasonal upsurge at Christmas, Mr Meagher warned that January would prove a tough month for families who were struggling.

“We’re well geared up for Christmas and the public have been enormously generous. Despite the challenges, the level of giving from the public has not diminished. However, January will prove a tough time for many.”

He added: “Unfortunately many of our donors to SVP have become people in need themselves. We are more than happy to help them and we would urge anyone who feels like they need the help of SVP to get in touch.”

Mr Meagher said some people who may feel they were not as badly off as others, and do not get help, risk falling into poverty as a result.

“We urge anyone experiencing difficulty to get in touch with their local SVP.”