Gas increase 'devastating'
The price increase by Bord Gáis and the effect it will have on older people has been described as “devastating” by a leading older people's representative in Cork.
Bord Gáis secured an 8.5 per cent increase in wholesale gas price increase over the next 12 months. The increase will add €70 on a yearly average household gas bill.
“It will hurt old people very badly,” said Phil Goodman of the Young at Heart senior group in Douglas.
“Old people are a different breed to the younger generations. They will starve rather than owe a bill. They would rather not turn on the gas and are too set in their ways to approach someone to make a payment plan.”
John Mullins, CEO of Bord Gáis Energy, insisted the price rise was in reaction to rising gas prices globally, but that the company would work with anyone who approached them for help.
“We have to purchase the gas in sterling,” said Mr Mullins, while urging people to contact their supplier early if they were entering financial trouble.
“And with the Euro depreciating, in the same fashion as petrol and diesel, the network charge have increased. We have payment plans in place for those facing financial hardship.”
“We will work with anyone who approaches us especially as we are aware a hard winter will exacerbate the situation even further. We will do all we can and we have done that consistently.”
However, the senior care group in Douglas warned that older people must be protected from such price hies as the alternative would be an even greater strain on the public purse.
“These people owe nothing to no-one,” said Ms Goodman.
“These are the people that made Ireland and do not deserve to treated like a number. The reality is that more of them will have to enter long term care and nursing homes, which will put more pressure on the public finances.”
Ms Goodman lamented the absence of humanity in modern dealings with suppliers, highlighting that “everyone is treated as a number on a sheet, not as a human being.”
She also urged more people to look out for their elderly neighbours, in much the same fashion that Young at Heart do, with regular calls to those who may be living alone.
Bord Gáis controls 69 per cent of the residential gas market and received a 22 per cent increase in prices last year. It’s understood Airtricity prices are also set to rise while other suppliers are in the process of reviewing their costs.