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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 16 Apr 2003

Vol. 565 No. 4

Written Answers. - Social Welfare Benefits.

Beverley Flynn


184 Ms Cooper-Flynn asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if it will be possible to have the fuel allowance scheme reviewed with a view to having fuel allowance paid on an all year round basis. [11312/03]

The aim of the national fuel scheme is to assist householders who are in receipt of long-term social welfare or health board payments and who are unable to provide fully for their own heating needs. The allowance is paid in the period from October to April, which is the normal heating season.

The allowance represents a contribution towards a person's normal heating expenses. In addition, many of the households concerned qualify for electricity and gas allowances. The scheme has been improved in recent budgets. The means test has been eased and the duration of payment increased from 26 weeks to 29 weeks. It is estimated that 259,000 households received a fuel allowance last year and 115,000 received smokeless fuel allowance. Expenditure in 2002 was €80.5 million.
There are no plans at present to further extend the duration of the scheme and any such extension would have to be considered in a budgetary context.