Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Questions (581)

Thomas Byrne


581. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if her attention has been drawn to the inability of those on Tús, RSS or gateway schemes to have their fuel allowance payment paid in two lump sum payments rather than receiving the payment weekly during the fuel season; and if she plans to make changes to the system to allow two lump sum payments be made to the recipients that are on Tús, RSS or gateway schemes. [39279/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

The fuel allowance is a payment of €22.50 per week for 28 weeks (a total of €630 each year) from October to April at an estimated cost of €240 million in 2019.  The purpose of this payment is to assist these qualifying 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.

From the 2017/2018 Fuel Season the lump sum payment option was introduced for the majority of recipients of the fuel allowance payments. This option was introduced to allow recipients to avail of discounts that may be available when people buy their fuel in bulk.

As the original introduction of lump sum payments was on a trial basis, it was not made available to participants of employment support schemes getting payments under the rural social scheme, Tús, gateway and community employment, as these payments are not made directly by the Department and because it would have imposed administrative burden and additional up-front costs on the sponsors of these employment support schemes.  My officials are currently working to establish the mechanism through which the lump sump option can be extended to Tús and RSS participants.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.