Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Questions (124)

Paul Connaughton

Question:

124. Deputy Paul J. Connaughton asked the Minister for Social Protection if a determination has been made in relation to the way the receipt of UK winter fuel payment would affect recipients of fuel allowance here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21718/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

The United Kingdom winter fuel payment is an annual tax-free payment made to eligible people to help towards their winter heating costs. It is a lump sum and in most cases is paid automatically, but some people need to claim. The total amount of winter fuel payment can vary from £100 - £300 sterling having regard to age and household composition. Most payments are made between mid- November and December in a given year. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that people living outside the UK may be paid the winter fuel payment where they can demonstrate a “genuine and sufficient link” to the UK’s social security system.

My Department pays a fuel allowance of €20 per week to qualified households who are in receipt of long-term social welfare or HSE payments and who are unable to provide for their own heating needs. The allowance represents a contribution towards a person's normal heating expenses. It is not intended to meet those costs in full. The fuel allowance season runs for 26 weeks from October to April each year.

The implications of this ECJ judgment are currently being examined, in particular the implications for eligibility for the fuel allowance in Ireland, which is paid on the basis that an applicant is unable to provide for his or her own heating needs.