Thursday, 24 October 2013

Questions (134)

Paul Connaughton

Question:

134. Deputy Paul J. Connaughton asked the Minister for Social Protection the steps she will take to assess eligibility for fuel allowance in respect of persons here who are receiving the UK winter fuel payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45397/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

In 2013, my Department will spend an estimated €211 million on the fuel allowance scheme, providing some 410,000 customers with an additional weekly payment of €20 during the winter.

The United Kingdom winter fuel payment is an annual lump sum payment made to eligible people to help towards their winter heating costs. It ranges from £100-£300 sterling. Until recently, only a small number of people living in Ireland (just over 7,000 in 2012) were in receipt of the payment as eligibility had to be shown while living in the UK and before moving to Ireland. Following a recent judgment of the European Court of Justice, eligibility has been extended to people living outside the UK who have a "genuine and sufficient link" to the UK social security system. It is expected that more people living in Ireland may become eligible for the UK payment.

As the fuel allowance scheme in Ireland is a means tested payment, which is paid on the basis that an applicant is unable to provide for his or her own heating needs, the Department would need to take account of the UK payment when determining eligibility. This process involved is under consideration.