I propose to take Questions Nos. 542 and 552 together.
Free travel is available to all persons in the State aged 66 years, or over, and also to certain disabled people under the age of 66. The other free schemes are available to people, usually aged 66 or over, who are in receipt of a welfare type payment and who are either living alone or who otherwise satisfy the living alone condition. In addition, widows between the age of 60 and 65 whose late husbands had entitlement to the free schemes retain that entitlement notwithstanding their age.
Last July, the free schemes of telephone rental allowance, electricity allowance and colour television licence were extended to low income pensioners who did not previously qualify because they did not get a social welfare pension.
Applicants for these schemes are deemed to satisfy the living alone condition if they are residing alone or only with certain excepted people, for example, dependent spouses or children. The extension of the residence condition to allow for the inclusion of other categories in the household, such as non-dependent children, would have substantial cost implications which would have to be considered in a budgetary context.