Those in rural areas, on lower incomes and older people disproportionately affected

Last week, a new study warned that nearly a third of Irish households are now living in energy poverty as a result of the recent surges in gas and electricity prices.

The research by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) calculated that households are paying on average of €21 more a week for energy, rising to €38 more when motor fuels are included, on the back of the recent price hikes.

“The ESRI report was really clear that broad-based measures like cuts to VAT and indirect taxes are not the best use of resources,” Tricia Keilthy, head of social justice at the Society of St Vincent de Paul tells today’s In the News podcast. “We know from our experience [that] inflation is hitting people on lowest incomes hardest so we need to make sure the supports provided are targeted towards those who need it most.”

Rising inflation and energy poverty means families are putting other bills on the long finger while also placing food back on the shelves in supermarkets and skipping meals,” said Ms Keilthy.

Economist and co-author of the ESRI report Barra Roantree, who also joins today’s podcast, said cutting indirect taxes such as fuel duty or carbon tax was a poorly targeted response and would not support those hardest hit by inflation.

The Government has said it is committed to tackling the cost-of-living crisis in October’s budget, but Opposition parties and advocacy groups say they must act sooner.

Today: Why are so many Irish people experiencing energy poverty and what must be done to help them?

In The News is presented by Sorcha Pollak and Conor Pope and produced by Declan Conlan, Jennifer Ryan and Suzanne Brennan.

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak is an Irish Times reporter and cohost of the In the News podcast

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