Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Questions (331)

Róisín Shortall


331. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will review the arrangement whereby a person (detail supplied) in receipt of disability allowance has been cut off the household benefit package as they live with their child whose income is derived solely from a jobseeker's payment; if she will take steps to address this anomaly whereby qualifying for one benefit results in disqualification for another; and if her attention has been drawn to the financial hardship which this anomaly places on families. [9842/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

The household benefits package comprises the electricity or gas allowances, the telephone allowance and the free television licence. The package is generally available to people living in the State who are over age 70, carers who live with the person for whom they care and those under age 70 who are in receipt of certain qualifying social welfare payments and who live alone or only with certain excepted people. “Excepted people” include, inter alia, dependent children, carers or people in need of full time care and attention.

The package is currently paid to over 415,000 customers and will cost an estimated €284 million in 2013. The objective of the scheme is to provide additional support for those who are elderly or live alone. Where a number of people in a household are receiving social welfare payments it is considered that it may not be appropriate to provide additional supports through the household benefits scheme. I would not regard this as an anomaly but as a targeting of a scheme to particularly vulnerable groups. I have no plans to amend the qualifying conditions for this scheme.