BY JOHN ELLIS, FINANCIAL ADVISOR
MORE than 55% of Irish people have not heated their homes at some point in the last year due to concerns about the cost, according to a recent Amarach poll on behalf of the Edmund Burke Institute.
The main finding of the report makes for disturbing reading.
In the last year nearly 1 in 2 (47%) adults did not use one or more electrical appliances at home due to concerns about the cost of electricity. An even higher proportion (56%) did not heat their house in full or part in the last year because they were worried about the cost of heating.
That figure rose to 63% among women, and 58% among those in lower socio-economic groupings. The 35-44 demographic was the most likely of any age to say they had chosen not to heat their home due to cost concerns (58%), with the 55+ demographic being the least likely to say they had chosen not to heat their home due to cost concerns (55%)
The poll revealed a wide-spread feeling that the Government’s policies are going to increase the number of people who cannot afford to heat their homes (87%) with fewer than one in 10 (9%) are of the opinion that the Government has a realistic plan in place to hit its 2030 climate goals. Approximately one in 4 (24%) answered, don’t know/unsure; and with these removed it reveals a staggering 95% of the population see Government underperformance as a major problem.
A total of 79% believe the Government is not doing enough to ensure a steady supply of affordable energy. Again, stripping out those who were unsure, that figure rises to roughly 95% of the population. With 85% saying they did not believe the Government is doing enough to protect the most vulnerable from increases in the price of electricity and heating. Again, taking out those who are unsure it rises to 95%.
According to Gary Kavanagh, Director of the Edmund Burke Institute this Government, though focused on implementing policies like grants, to incentivise people to live in a more environmentally sustainable fashion, does not appear to fully understands the impact these policies are having and will continue to have on peoples’ quality of life especially those with lower earning power.
This poll looked at the actions people are taking.
With the latest CPI report showing housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels to have risen by 10.8%. It seems to show that policies that increase the cost of energy, or restrict its supply, have wide-ranging impacts on the population in a way that few other policies can.
Especially if we take in electricity use by data centres which matches that of all rural homes in Ireland. Central Statistics Office (CSO) records show that data centres proliferated so much from 2015-2020 that their electricity usage rose by 144% accounting for 11% of the country’s total electricity consumption in 2020.
Mr Kavanagh believes the poll shows the Government is failing “to ensure that its policies allow for and support a supply of affordable and sustainable energy”. If this continues living standards will decline, and policies aiming to increase sustainability will lose support amongst the general public.
In summary the poll shows that all age groups have been impacted by increases in the cost of heating and electricity leading to an extreme lack of faith in the ability of the government to handle this issue, and the vast majority of people believe the Government is making the problem worse.
According to Mr Kavanagh, the Government needs to demonstrate that they understand the issues at hand and that their policy choices are designed to improve people’s lives, not make them worse off.
* Full report see – https://www.edmundburkeinstitute.ie/