ESB Cuts-off 30 Households a Day

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It has been revealed that the ESB (the Electricity Supply Board, a State-owned company) has been cutting off an average of 30 people a day from the electricity supply due to their inability to pay the bills.

ESB supplies 1.5 million customers in the state, and cuts off on average 900 households a month for failing to pay the electricity bill. Usually this is a short-term cut-off, and 99.9% of customers are reconnected within 24 hours after payment has been received. However, this simply shows that, when faced with a dark home, people will go to extra measures to pay. MABS (the Money Advice and Budgeting Service) state that "One concern we have is that people have to take out a loan for the reconnection fee once their power is cut off, and that causes them further financial stress,".  It is hardly a solution if already hard-pressed customers are putting extra financial strain on themselves by borrowing to get their electricity supply back. The St Vincent de Paul have said that the announcement of Government electricity price-hikes in October is of “grave concern” and will “add further to the level of fuel poverty witnessed consistently in recent years”.

ESB in their end of year statement for 2009 claimed an after-tax profit of €580 million. Over 11,000 people this year have entered into payment schemes with ESB as they experience financial hardship.

All of this comes as only last week a further €10 billion of taxpayers’ money was pumped into the black-hole that is Anglo-Irish Bank, the same taxpayers that are having their supply cut-off. This hardly seems fair, does it? Why can’t some of that money be used to bail-out financially pressured households, and to create employment for the more than 400,000 people on the Live Register? This system only looks after the wealthy, and leaves the rest of us to rough it. We need a system that puts people before profit, and don’t think for a moment that any politician will help us achieve it.

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