Tuesday, 16 April 2019
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
550. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of households in each local authority area considered to be at risk of fuel poverty; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17847/19]
In 2016 the Government launched a comprehensive Strategy to Combat Energy Poverty following extensive public consultation. It sets out the Government’s commitment to protecting vulnerable households from energy poverty through a combination of supports, investment in schemes to improve energy efficiency, and energy efficiency awareness initiatives.
This Strategy is spearheaded by the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment and questions in relation to this strategy, and to policy around energy poverty, should be directed to that Department.
My Department does not have statistics on the number of households in each local authority area considered to be at risk of fuel poverty. Fuel allowance is paid by my Department to over 380,000 low income households which could be considered at risk of fuel poverty, based on their general economic circumstances. However, my Department would not have details of the energy efficiency in those households and, therefore could not comment on how many of these in each local authority area have difficulty in heating their homes.
The fuel allowance is a payment of €22.50 per week for 28 weeks (a total of €630 each year) from October to April, at an estimated cost of €240 million in 2019. The purpose of this payment is to assist these households with their energy costs. The allowance represents a contribution towards the energy costs of a household.
My Department also pays an electricity or gas allowance at an estimated cost of €187 million in 2019 to certain qualified households. Under the supplementary welfare allowance scheme, a special heating supplement may be paid to assist people in certain circumstances that have special heating needs. Exceptional needs payments may be made to help meet an essential, once-off cost which an applicant is unable to meet out of his/her own resources.
I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.