The Telephone Support Allowance (TSA) is a weekly payment of €2.50. Approximately 133,000 customers are in receipt of the TSA payment. The estimated full year cost of the scheme is over €17 million.
The primary objective of the TSA is to allow the most vulnerable people at risk of isolation, including the elderly and those with disabilities, access to personal alarms or phones for security. Therefore, the criteria for the allowance were framed in order to direct the limited resources available to my Department in as targeted a manner as possible.
To receive the allowance a customer of my Department must be in receipt of a qualifying payment and also in receipt of the Living Alone Allowance and the Fuel Allowance.
Based on an estimated average of 136,000 recipients of TSA in 2021, the estimated cost of increasing the weekly rate of TSA to €4 per week would be in the region of €10.6 million. This would increase the overall budget for the scheme to approximately €28 million.
Any decision to increase the weekly rate of TSA would have budget implications and would have to be considered in the context of overall budgetary negotiations.
I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.