FERMOY WOMAN HAS ELECTRICITY CUT OFF
The Avondhu this week spoke to a Fermoy woman who recently had her electricity cut off, as she could not pay her bill. With figures released at the weekend showing the ESB is cutting off 30 households a day, this is just one of the many cases occurring throughout the country on a daily basis.
“I moved into a new house at the start of the year and only received a bill from Airtricity last month. They told me they had sent one each month but I never received them.
"My current bill, including arrears is €787, which I cannot pay. I then got a letter advising me I would be disconnected after I had been cut off.”
DRIVING WITHOUT INSURANCE
The woman, who did not wish to be identified said she has had no electricity for over a week now.
“I don’t know what I am going to do. I drove to Watergrasshill to meet the social welfare inspector and I got caught for driving without tax and insurance. I had no choice, as I didn’t have anyone else to drive me.
"The social welfare inspector told me that I would have to use the money from the ‘back to school allowance’ that I received, and they would contact the St Vincent de Paul Society to pay the rest of the bill. I can’t use this money, as it will have to go towards school uniforms.
THREW AWAY FOOD
“I have to buy fresh food every day for the kids as I had to throw away over €250 worth of food from the fridge and freezer which I got with the children’s allowance. I have to go to a friend’s house now to bathe the kids. I can’t see how I am going to pay this bill,” the woman told The Avondhu.
30 HOUSEHOLDS A DAY
Figures released at the weekend show the ESB is cutting off 30 households a day. The shocking new figures come in the same week the Government piled more pressure on recession-hit families with a new 5% electricity levy.
It confirms the fears of agencies working with those caught up in the worst recession in recent memory that tens of thousands of ordinary families can no longer afford the basics, including their utility bills.
A spokesperson for MABS (Money Advice and Budgeting Service) said that energy suppliers should take more time to distinguish customers who won’t pay their bills from those who simply cannot. Michael Culloty from the Money Advice and Budgeting Service has said “companies should take the time to understand their customers problems”.
More than 4,000 people contacted MABS over problems with utility bills payments adding that difficulty with utility bill payments was the second highest reason people approach the service.
A spokesperson for the ESB said, “ In the last year, ESB Customer Supply has de-energised an average of 900 customers per month and this must be seen in the context of a total customer base of 1.5 million.”
This de-energised figure is slightly increased on previous figures of around 700 per month. De-energisation only occurs when all other avenues have been exhausted.
Where problems with payments arise we work with all our customers through our collection process to arrange payment plans and budget payments. We also work with St Vincent de Paul and MABS to assist customers who are struggling financially with their bills.”
Recent figures available from the Commission for Energy Regulation show that in January 1,668 households were disconnected.
In February, the figure rose to 2,515, and by March there were 2,604 people disconnected for not paying their bills. These figures take into account the other energy providers such as Bord Gais and Airtricity.
St Vincent de Paul said the announcement that electricity prices are to increase in October is of grave concern and will add further to the level of fuel poverty witnessed consistently in recent years.
Thursday 19th August 6:56pm