The St Vincent de Paul (SVP) volunteer who organises the distribution of coal to pensioners and families who find themselves in poverty, says that those who are already struggling will have their problems compounded by the Government's Budget plans.
Under Finance Minister Michael Noonan's plans, which are due to pass through the Oireachtas today, Wednesday, those who struggle to heat their homes will be hit by the double blow of a reduction in the Winter Fuel Allowance coupled with an increase in tax on home heating fuel.
For the last 20 years SVP volunteer, Frank McManus has coordinated three contractors' delivery of bags of coal to OAPs living in Cavan Town and its surrounds, extending for a radius of around five miles.
SVP deliver three bags of coal per month from November to March inclusive, to 100 pensioners' households. At Christmas they also deliver a number of one-off gifts of five bags of coal to families, as opposed to OAPs, for whom, due to financial pressures, an exception is made.
Mr McManus says that the budget changes are "definitely going to affect" those vulnerable people who already need help heating their homes and said his heart goes out to them.
However he notes that the budget changes will not impact until January.
"We will have to wait until next year before that hits in," Mr McManus told The Anglo-Celt.
"We are inundated with requests for oil but we couldn't get involved with that because it is far too expensive - we wouldn't have the resources to meet it," he adds.
"We had a request from a man who we supply coal to, and this man is in his 80s and in bad health and he's also looking for money to buy oil," says Mr McManus with a sympathetic sigh.
Meanwhile Mr McManus says that the SVP is experiencing a huge increase in requests for financial help in recent weeks.
"We had our meeting last Sunday and it went on for two hours meeting the requests. I'm sure we had anywhere between 80-100 requests for financial help. Sunday week, we would have had 53 [requests]; it would have doubled.
"The demand for help in general now is unbelievable. People who we are normally collecting money off, they are now requesting money off us - especially the self-employed who have mortgages and now have no jobs."
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