An increasing number of people are approaching the Society of St Vincent de Paul for help with their energy bills.

In a study published today, the charity says the annual cost of energy bills has risen by around €500 a year, with gas prices in particular rising by a third over the past three years.

The society says increased energy costs have outpaced the €20 weekly fuel allowance paid to Social Welfare recipients and pensioners.

Between 2008 and 2011, St Vincent de Paul increased its fuel assistance to families from €3.8m to €10.4m.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, the SVP’s Head of Social Justice and Policy said the society was trying to assist people to move to prepay meters and cost-control solutions that allow people to reduce their bills.

John Mark McCafferty said that every euro and cent counts for those who are struggling to pay their energy bills.