Sinn Féin Councillor Conor D. McGuinness has said that proposals by the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) to protect households against the worst impact of runaway fuel costs do not go far enough.
He said a ban on disconnections needs to be introduced for all customers throughout the fuel allowance season, in line with provisions in Sinn Féin’s Prohibition of Winter Disconnections Bill.
Senator Lynn Boylan, Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Climate Justice, called for utility companies to be forced to offer their cheapest tariff rate to all consumers.
Cllr McGuinness said:
“The massive increase in the cost of light and heat is putting huge financial pressure on families, and this is set to worsen throughout the winter.In addition to a windfall tax on energy companies and financial support for households, other protections like an expanded ban on disconnections is needed.
“The CRU announced additional protections last night, but these do not go far enough, considering the scale of the challenge people are now facing due to the massive rise in energy costs. A ban on disconnections for vulnerable customers will now run from October 1st until March 31st. We believe this needs to be in place for all customers this winter.
“Last year, Sinn Féin introduced the Prohibition of Winter Disconnections Bill to ban disconnections during the fuel allowance season every year. We recognise households who are struggling financially need support during this time, not the threat of having their light and heat cut off over the winter.
“Disconnections are a very real issue for many people. For example, in 2019, there were 5,008 domestic disconnections for electricity and 2,424 for gas.”
Senator Boylan said:
“We further believe energy companies should also be required to offer all customers their best tariff rate.
“Last night the CRU announced that all customers with a financial hardship meter will be placed on the cheapest tariff available from their supplier. While this is welcome, again, it doesn’t go far enough given the astronomical price of energy and the reality that every household will struggle with bills this winter.
“We believe utility companies should offer all customers their cheapest available tariff.
“Some customers are on much higher rates as they may not have changed supplier in some time. This is adding even more to their bills. People should not be punished for staying with one energy provider.”