Wednesday, 3 November 2021
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
Social Welfare Benefits
123. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the position regarding the fuel allowance for a pensioner (details supplied) in Dublin 11; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [53521/21]
Fuel allowance is a means-tested payment to assist householders on long-term social welfare payments towards the cost of their heating needs.
The main eligibility conditions that apply to the fuel allowance scheme are that a person must be in receipt of a qualifying payment, must satisfy a means test and must either be living alone or with other qualifying persons.
Disablement Benefit is not currently a qualifying payment for Fuel Allowance and when a person in a household is in receipt of Disablement Benefit, the household is not entitled to Fuel Allowance. The only exception is where the person on Disablement Benefit is also in receipt of Incapacity Supplement.
According to the records of my Department, the person concerned is in receipt of State pension (Contributory) and Disablement Benefit.
Therefore, the person concerned does not satisfy the eligibility conditions for fuel allowance. There is no scope for discretion to be applied where a claimant fails to satisfy the qualifying conditions for the scheme.
However, under my Department's Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme, a special Heating Supplement may be paid to assist people in certain circumstances who have special heating needs. This is payable at the discretion of the officers administering the scheme, taking into account the legislative requirements and all the relevant circumstances of the case. Applications for a Heating Supplement may be made to the person’s local Intreo Office administering Supplementary Welfare Allowance.
Also, under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme, exceptional needs payments may be made to help meet essential, once-off costs which applicants are unable to meet out of their own resources – this may include exceptional heating costs. Decisions on such payments are made on a case-by-case basis.
I hope this clarifies the position for the Deputy.
124. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a decision will be made on a respite care grant application by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [53534/21]
The Carer's Support Grant is an annual payment made to carers by my Department.
I can confirm that my Department received an application for the Carer’s Support Grant (CSG) from the person concerned on 26 August, 2021.
In order to qualify for CSG, a person must have provided, or be likely to provide, full-time care and attention to a person (or a combination of both) for a period of 6 months, with this period including the date on which CSG is payable. It is also a condition that a carer cannot receive Jobseeker's Benefit, Jobseeker's Allowance, or sign on for credited contributions during this period.
The person concerned was awarded Jobseekers Benefit Credits for the period from 17 August, 2018 to 15 September, 2021.
Having considered the information available, the application for CSG for the years 2020 and 2021 was disallowed by a deciding officer. A letter issued to the person concerned on 21 October 2021, informing her of the decision and of her right of review and appeal.
I hope this clarifies the position for the Deputy.
125. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to reintroduce the diet supplement to help with the cost of a special diet prescribed by a general practitioner or hospital consultant; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [53551/21]
Diet supplement, administered under the supplementary welfare allowance scheme, is payable to qualifying persons, in receipt of the supplement prior to February 2014, who have been prescribed a special diet as a result of a specified medical condition. There are currently just over 1,500 people in receipt of diet supplement at a cost of almost €0.9m in 2020.
A review of the costs of healthy eating and specialised diets by the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute was commissioned by my department during 2013. The research showed that the average costs across all of the retail outlets of the diets supplemented under the scheme could be met from within one-third of the minimum personal rate of social welfare payment, i.e. the SWA rate, which was then paid at €186 per week (and is currently paid at €201 per week). I am advised that the diet supplement scheme was discontinued for new applicants from 1 February 2014 on the basis of this evidence.
Recipients continue to receive the diet supplement at their existing rate of payment for as long as they continue to have an entitlement to the scheme or until their circumstances change. This measure ensured that nobody was immediately worse off by the closure of the scheme.
In cases of particular hardship, officials continue to have the legislative power to award a Supplementary Welfare Allowance payment in cases of exceptional need.
I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.