Written answers

Thursday, 19 January 2023

Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection

Social Welfare Code

Photo of Seán SherlockSeán Sherlock (Cork East, Labour)
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268. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she will make carer's allowance a qualifying payment for the fuel allowance. [2659/23]

Photo of Heather HumphreysHeather Humphreys (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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The Fuel Allowance is a payment of €33 per week for 28 weeks (a total of €924 each year) from late September to April, at an estimated cost of €412 million in 2023. The purpose of this payment is to assist these households with their energy costs.

The Government values the role of carers in society and it is for this reason that they receive significant income supports from the Department. In addition to Carer’s Allowance, carers receive additional support in the form of free travel and household benefits (for those who live with the person for whom they care) and the annual Carer's Support Grant (€1,850) in respect of each person for whom they care.

While Carer's Allowance is not a qualifying payment for Fuel Allowance, a person in receipt of Carer's Allowance may avail of the Fuel Allowance payment in certain circumstances. Fuel Allowance is a household-based payment, and a carer will very often live with and care for a person in receipt of a qualifying payment for Fuel Allowance. Income from Carer's Allowance is disregarded from the fuel means test if the carer is providing full time care and attention to the Fuel Allowance applicant, his/her qualified spouse/civil partner or cohabitant or qualified child(ren).

If a person is getting certain qualifying social welfare payments and also providing full time care and attention to another person, they can keep their main social protection payment in addition to receiving the half-rate Carer's Allowance. They can also receive an extra half-rate Carer’s Allowance if they care for more than one person. The amount of half-rate Carer’s Allowance received is now disregarded when assessing means for Fuel Allowance purposes.

Any decision to adjust the rules of Fuel Allowance to make Carer's Allowance a qualifying payment for Fuel Allowance would have budgetary consequences and would have to be considered in an overall policy and budgetary context.

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.

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