Tuesday, 10 May 2022
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
Social Welfare Benefits
541. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she is considering expanding the qualifying criteria for the fuel allowance to include qualifying people who live with dependents who are partaking in apprenticeship and or training courses and are under 23 years of age in line with the rule that applies to persons who are attending third level courses; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23009/22]
The Fuel Allowance is a payment of €33.00 per week for 28 weeks (a total of €924 each year) from October to April, at an estimated cost of €366 million in 2022.The purpose of this payment is to assist qualifying 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.
The household composition rules for Fuel Allowance indicate that an applicant must live alone or only with a qualified spouse / civil partner / cohabitant or qualified child(ren). A child under 22 is only considered a qualified child for Fuel Allowance purposes if an increase for a qualified child is being paid on the fuel applicant's qualifying primary payment and not solely because a child is participating in third level education.
If a person is getting a long-term social welfare payment and their child is in full-time education, an Increase for a Qualified Child will be paid up to age 22 or up to the end of the academic year in which he or she reaches 22. Full-time education does not include training provided by SOLAS where an allowance is paid, or where the period of work experience is greater than the period of training or instruction, or where the training forms part of an employment or work experience programme.
Any decision to expand the qualifying criteria for Fuel Allowance in the manner outlined by the Deputy would have budgetary consequences and would have to be considered in the context of overall budget negotiations.
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, and this may include exceptional heating costs. Decisions on such payments are made on a case-by-case basis.
I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.