Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Questions (2735, 2737)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

2735. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of recipients of the fuel allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32914/19]

View answer

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

2737. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated cost of a credit for those in receipt of the fuel allowance to offset increased carbon taxes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32916/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 2735 and 2737 together.

The fuel allowance is a payment of €22.50 per week for 28 weeks (a total of €630 each year) from October to April, to over 372,000 low income households, at an estimated cost of €240 million in 2019. The purpose of this payment is to assist these households with their energy costs. The allowance represents a contribution towards the energy costs of a household. It is not intended to meet those costs in full. Only one allowance is paid per household.

My Department also pays an electricity or gas allowance under the Household Benefits Package at an estimated cost of €187 million in 2019.

Additionally, under the supplementary welfare allowance scheme, a special heating supplement may be paid to assist people in certain circumstances that have special heating needs. Exceptional needs payments may be made to help meet an essential, once-off cost which an applicant is unable to meet out of his / her own resources.

It is not possible to state the cost of the measure proposed by the Deputy, as the relevant cost of any increase in carbon tax would vary upon a number of factors, notably the energy efficiency of the homes of fuel allowance recipients, and the amount and type of fuel they use.

Any decision to increase the fuel allowance payment to cover the cost of energy or carbon taxes would have budgetary consequences and would have to be considered in the context of budget negotiations.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.