Written answers

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Department of Social Protection

Household Benefits Scheme

Photo of Paul MurphyPaul Murphy (Dublin South West, Socialist Party)
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122. To ask the Minister for Social Protection if, after moving from jobseeker's benefit or jobseeker's allowance to a carer's allowance, a person becomes ineligible for the telephone and fuel allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46854/14]

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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A person moving from long-term jobseeker’s allowance to carer’s allowance would not be eligible for fuel allowance, as carer’s allowance is not a qualifying payment.

However, a person in receipt of carer’s allowance may become eligible for the household benefits package, which is not available for people in receipt of jobseeker’s allowance. The package includes a gas/electricity allowance of €35 per month and a free television licence which is normally €160 per year. In addition, people in receipt of carer’s allowance are entitled to free travel, and the annual respite care grant of €1,375. The telephone allowance was discontinued in Budget 2014.

Approximately 415,000 customers receive the fuel allowance of €20 per week for 26 weeks from October to April, at an estimated cost of €208 million in 2014. The electricity or gas allowance of €35 per month is also paid to 415,000 customers at an estimated cost of €230 million in 2014.

Under the supplementary welfare allowance scheme, exceptional needs payments may be made to help meet an essential, once-off cost which customers are unable to meet out of their own resources; this may include exceptional heating costs. There is also a special heating supplement, paid to assist people with special heating needs because of ill health or infirmity. The provision for exceptional needs payments in 2014 is €31.3 million, with an additional €9.8 million for supplements.

It is recognised in the Government’s Energy Affordability Strategy that the best way to tackle fuel poverty in the long term is to improve the energy efficiency of the dwelling. The Better Energy Warmer Homes scheme, administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, delivers a range of energy efficiency measures to low income households vulnerable to energy poverty. Measures available include draught proofing, attic insulation, lagging jackets for hot water tanks, low energy light bulbs and cavity wall insulation, and are free of charge to the customer.


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