Northside families who are under severe financial pressure are being charged nearly €400 to switch to a pre-payment system for their gas according to Dublin North East Labour Deputy Tommy Broughan.
“A number of constituents have been in touch who are finding it very difficult to pay their gas and electricity bills. These constituents decided to switch to a pre-payment system for their gas so as to manage their families’ budget better but were astonished to find out they faced a charge of €373 to do so. The constituents who contacted me have indicated that they simply cannot afford to pay a bill of nearly €400 to switch to the pre-payment system.
“I contacted Energy Minister Eamon Ryan in relation to this matter and he confirmed that there is “fixed €373 charge” for anybody who wants to become a pre-payment gas customer. The Minister went on to advise that customers who are experiencing genuine financial hardship, or have been in touch with MABS or the Saint Vincent de Paul, may qualify for the installation of a pre-payment meter at no cost.
“But generally most people who are switching to the pre-payment method are on low incomes or are struggling financially. It is incredible that the Minister and the Energy Regulator CER would sanction a set charge to switch to pre-payment, especially one that is so high. This will act as a major disincentive for families to switch to pre-payment even though they are doing so to get their finances under control. It is also surprising that it costs so much to become a pre-pay gas customer given the long tradition within Bord Gais of pre-paying for gas. (Indeed Bord Gais pioneered the pre-payment system).
“I also again asked Minister Ryan to review the levying of VAT on the PSO levy on electricity bills which is clearly a double tax and is adding to the difficulties that many householders face in trying to pay their energy bills as the winter approaches.”