Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Questions (269)

Michael Healy-Rae


272 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Social Protection in view of the fact that there is a complete failure to save turf this year, which will put an undue burden on elderly persons in particular who used to buy turf locally and now will have to choose more expensive options of fuel for the winter, her plans to enhance the fuel allowance for the winter months to assist these vulnerable persons; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34551/12]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Social Protection)

The fuel allowance was paid to some 400,000 people at a cost of €265 million in 2011. Between 2005 and 2011 the numbers in receipt of fuel allowance rose by almost 50%. For the same period the cost of the scheme rose from €82 million to almost €265 million, an increase of over 200%.

The scheme was envisaged as a way of providing some additional support for people on long-term welfare payments during the winter season but is not intended to provide for all their heating costs. I have no plans to enhance the fuel allowance.

All of the schemes operated by my Department, including fuel allowance, were examined in the context of the Comprehensive Review of Expenditure and continue to be kept under review given the on-going need for savings. The Review continues to inform me in my decisions on future spending.