Thursday, 1 April 2021
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
234. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of persons in receipt of the fuel allowance; the number of applications for the fuel allowance; the number of refusals for the fuel allowance over the past three years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17707/21]
Fuel Allowance is a means tested payment to assist pensioners and other long-term social welfare dependent householders with their winter heating costs. The payment is a contribution towards heating costs. It is not intended to meet these costs in full. The payment is made at the weekly rate of €28.00 or, if preferred, by way of two lump sum payments and is paid over the winter season (28 weeks in the 2020/2021 fuel allowance season). Only one Fuel Allowance is payable per household.
Current figures indicate that approximately 372,000 households are in receipt of Fuel Allowance. Those who qualified for Fuel Allowance last year automatically receive the payment again this year provided they continue to fulfil the eligibility requirements. They do not therefore need to re-apply.
Due to the payment of Fuel Allowance across different IT platforms, accurate numbers of claims received and disallowed are not readily obtainable. However, based on the information available, approximately 16,400 applications have been received in 2021 to date, with 4,700 disallowed. Approximately 17,200 were disallowed in 2020, 21,600 in 2019 and 22,000 in 2018.
I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.
235. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the price substitute between bituminous smoky coal and smokeless coal; if the fuel allowance will be increased to take into account any prohibition of the sale of bituminous smoky coal, wet wood and sod turf; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17708/21]
The Fuel Allowance is a payment of €28.00 per week for 28 weeks (a total of €784 each year) from October to April, to over 372,000 low income households, at an estimated cost of €300 million in 2021. 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. It is not intended to meet those costs in full. Only one allowance is paid per household.
Matters relating to the sale of fuels are relevant to the Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications.
I am informed by the Minister that his Department (i.e., the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications) is currently holding a public consultation on the development of new solid fuel regulations which is due to close on Friday 2ndof April. The development of new regulations will involve a thorough analysis of all submissions, engagement with all relevant stakeholders and consideration of all associated matters including fuel poverty.
I am also informed that, according to the most recent SEAI Fuel cost comparison (available at ), the difference between the cost of bituminous coal and smokeless coal is approximately €1.40 per 40kg bag, with the cost of smokeless coal having decreased by 2.7% in the last year.
Finally, I am further informed that, in order to improve our air quality, we must reduce our reliance upon the burning of solid fossil fuels, and that this is being supported by an allocation of €221 million for home and community retrofitting provided for in Budget 2021. This 82% increase on the 2020 budget is being funded through carbon tax revenue and includes €109 million in additional supports for low income homes. Social welfare recipients may also be entitled to a free energy upgrade. Further information on all SEAI grants and schemes is available at .
I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.