Local Independent Deputy, Denis Naughten, has urged families to use some of the time in COVID-19 isolation to shop around for the best offers available for electricity, phone, broadband, TV and gas, which could save them up to €1,000 per year.
“Shopping around and switching provider could not be easier with approved comparison sites such as switcher.ie or bonkers.ie Not only will they identify the best deal for your family but will do the switching for you as well.
“There are significant savings to be made. For example, in switching supplier a customer could save, consuming an average amount of energy, up to €148 on an annual electricity bill and up to €118 on an annual gas bill, while a customer of a single dual-fuel supplier could save up to €300.
“In the case of mobile phone packages customers could say up to €300 if they have not shopped around in a while. In the case of mobile offers people should check the mobile coverage in their area before switching. This can be checked at comreg.ie/coveragemap
“Families could also help out older neighbours or those who don’t have access to the internet by assisting them in shopping around through these comparison websites.
“When shopping around across the range of utility bills including broadband & TV families could save themselves up to €1,000 which could be of huge assistance to them over the months ahead,” Deputy Naughten stressed.
Meanwhile, children in families where a parent or guardian is over 66 and, as result of their age, are being denied the €350 COVID-19 payment, are facing unnecessary levels of financial hardship purely because of the parent’s age, Deputy Naughten sserted.
“I have come across several cases where parents over 66-years-old have been working - some full-time - to supplement their income in order to pay normal family bills or pay for students who are still in college.
“I have also come across a number of situations where a grandparent is a child’s guardian, many of them vulnerable children, and the grandparent has been working self-employed or in a job where the employer who is not availing of the wage subsidy scheme.
“In one case a 67-year-old single income pensioner with three children in college has lost two part-time incomes (one self-employed ) and is now reliant solely on the State pension.
“In another case a single income pensioner with a 12-year-old has lost a part-time job and cannot continue to operate their self-employment business either. This person would rather not have to work but the reality is that they sustained significant losses in the 2008 economic crash like so many others.
“In both instances their employers are not availing of the wage subsidy scheme.
“While the official Department of Social Projection response has been that these pensioners can avail of the free travel and free TV licence, the fact remains that neither of these schemes will pay for food, make repayments on equipment and vans, pay rents or meet other bills associated with their businesses.
“These families are at breaking point and don’t know how they will face the bills coming at the end of the month.
“The whole objective behind the income supports introduced by Government was to ensure that families could meet their day to day bills during the Covid-19 crisis but some children are being treated differently solely because their parent or guardian happens to be over 66-years-old and that is wrong.
“This discrimination against children based on the age of the income earner is wrong and must be reversed immediately,” Deputy Naughten concluded.