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Social Welfare Eligibility

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 25 November 2021

Thursday, 25 November 2021

Questions (13)

Denis Naughten

Question:

13. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Social Protection her plans to reform the criteria for the fuel allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [57448/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

Fuel Allowance criteria are designed in a way that directs the resources available to my Department in as targeted a manner as possible. This ensures that the fuel allowance payment goes to those who are more vulnerable to fuel poverty including those reliant on social protection payments for longer periods and those who are unlikely to have additional resources of their own.

We made a number of considerable reforms to the fuel allowance scheme in Budget 2022, including:

- An increase in the weekly rate of fuel allowance by €5 with immediate effect from budget night bringing it to €33.

- A €20 increase in the weekly income threshold. While it was originally intended to introduce this from the 1st January 2022, I asked my officials to prioritise this work. I am happy to inform the Deputy that this work will now be completed at the end of this week with the effective date for the implementation of the revised means test now backdated to Budget day.

The combined cost of both of these measures is in the region of €60million and we estimate that approximately 400,000 households will benefit from Fuel Allowance next year. In addition, the qualifying period for Jobseeker’s and Supplementary Welfare Allowance recipients will be reduced from 15 to 12 months with effect from September 2022 ahead of the start of the next Fuel season.

Under the supplementary welfare allowance scheme, my Department provides discretionary exceptional needs payments, where appropriate, to people who face difficulties in meeting fuel bills. These payments are not ring-fenced or budget limited as they would be if they were drawn from an earmarked fund, but rather are demand led.

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