Broke Irish families have asked to have their electricity cut off because they can’t afford to pay for power.

A shocking new report reveals that 5,000 customers have asked Ireland’s Electricity Supply Board to disconnect them.

The Irish Sun reports that the cash strapped families have opted to live without electricity rather than fall further into debt.Another 1,600 desperate householders have opted to disconnect their gas supplies.

Other households have asked their electricity and gas suppliers to install pay-as-you-go meters. Ireland’s Commission for Energy Regulation Chairman Dermot Nolan has told a government committee that families with children are having most problems with falling into arrears.

Consumer watchdog Dermot Jewell told the paper: “That means they are without light, they are using candles, they don’t have power for day to day living.

“The piling on and continuity of increases is unacceptable, it’s unforgivable.“I think we really do need to hear now at this stage from Government in relations to what are they going to do to help consumers.”

The report says that around 10 per cent of all electricity and gas customers are struggling to pay utility bills, representing 200,000 electricity customers and 62,800 gas users.

Nolan claimed: “It is hard to understand why people would opt to be disconnected rather than use pre-paid meters.“The price and supply of gas, which Ireland is highly dependent on for our energy needs, is highly volatile.”