Wednesday, 18 May 2022
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
Social Welfare Payments
The Fuel Allowance scheme 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 €33.00; or if preferred, by way of two lump sum payments; and is paid over the winter season. Only one Fuel Allowance is payable per household. Those who qualify for the payment do not need to reapply annually.
The National Energy Security Framework includes provision for a further additional lump sum payment of €100 to be paid to all households in receipt of fuel allowance in the last week of the 2021/22 fuel allowance season – a payment equivalent to over 3 weeks additional fuel allowance. The additional €100 fuel allowance payment will be paid to eligible customers from Monday the 16th of May 2022. Customers do not need to make an application for this additional payment.
I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.
142. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of recipients receiving the household benefit package and the fuel allowance; the number who are in receipt of both payments; when the last rise in the fuel element of the household benefit package took place; and if there are plans to raise the amount in the coming period. [25299/22]
The Household Benefits package comprises of the electricity or gas allowance, and the free television licence. The package is generally available to people living in the State aged 66 years or over who are in receipt of a social welfare type payment or who satisfy a means test. The package is also available to some people under the age of 66, who are in receipt of certain social welfare payments. Only one Household Benefits package is payable per household.
The Fuel Allowance scheme is a means tested payment to assist pensioners and other long-term social welfare dependent householders with their winter heating costs. This payment was increased from €28.00 to €33.00 per week in Budget 2022 and is a contribution towards heating costs, it is not intended to meet these costs in full. The payment is made over the winter season, either weekly or, if preferred, by way of two lump sum payments. Only one Fuel Allowance is payable per household. Those who qualify for the payment do not need to reapply annually.
At the end of 2021, the Household Benefits package was paid to some 484,000 recipients and the Fuel allowance to some 375,000 recipients. Numbers in receipt of both the Household Benefits package and the Fuel Allowance scheme was some 210,000.
There is no fuel element associated with the Household Benefits package. There is, however, the electricity and gas allowances, as mentioned above.
In 2013, the arrangements governing the electricity / gas allowance were changed from a unit-based allowance to a credit-based allowance. The rate was set at €1.15 a day (€35 per month approximately). Any decision to enhance or increase the electricity and gas aspect of the package would have to be considered in the context of overall budget negotiations.
The Government is acutely aware of the increase in consumer prices in recent months, especially the increase in fuel and other energy prices. To help mitigate the effects of these rising costs, the Government has announced significant additional expenditure which will make a positive impact on the incomes of all households in our country.
As part of these measures, I announced an additional lump sum payment of €125 for those in receipt of Fuel Allowance in mid-March 2022. Furthermore, as part of the measures included in the National Energy Security Framework, I announced a further additional lump sum payment of €100, equivalent to over 3 weeks additional fuel allowance, to be paid to all households in receipt of the Fuel Allowance during the final week of the 2021/22 season. This payment issued week beginning the 16th May 2022.
This means that low-income households will see an increase of 55% in Fuel Allowance support provided during this Fuel Allowance season compared to last season.
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 matters for the Deputy.