Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Ceisteanna (635)

John Brady

Ceist:

635. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if all those in receipt of the winter fuel payment from the UK will continue to receive the payment in circumstances in which they are not in receipt of the fuel allowance post Brexit as per the convention on social security between Ireland and the UK; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11516/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Fuel Allowance Scheme represents a contribution towards a person's normal heating expenses. It is means tested and is paid only to customers who are getting a qualifying payment, either a State Pension or a means-assessed payment. The rate of fuel allowance is €22.50 per week or €630.00 annually. Currently the fuel season is 28 weeks, and the allowance can be paid weekly or in two lump sums of €315 each, being at the start of the fuel season in October and at the midway point in January.

I understand that the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) Winter Fuel Payment (WFP) is an annual tax-free payment made to eligible people to help towards their winter heating costs. It is a lump sum payment between £100 stg and £300 stg and in most cases it is paid automatically between November and December, to qualified persons. I also understand that as of winter 2012/13, people who live in the EEA or Switzerland who have “a genuine and sufficient link” to the UK are potentially eligible to receive the WFP, regardless of whether they previously had entitlement to it whilst living in the UK. This change occurred, following the 2011 European Court of Justice ruling (the ‘Stewart Case’). Prior to that, only people who had an entitlement to WFP before moving from the United Kingdom were eligible.

Post-Brexit, including in the event of a no-deal Brexit, Irish and British citizens will continue to enjoy the right to travel, live, and work between the UK and Ireland in the same manner as before. This is because of a long-standing arrangement known as the Common Travel Area (CTA).

Under the CTA, Irish and British citizens can move freely and reside in either jurisdiction and enjoy associated rights and entitlements, including access to employment, healthcare, education, social benefits, and the right to vote in certain elections. The CTA pre-dates Irish and UK membership of the EU and is not dependent on it. Both the Government of Ireland and the UK Government have committed to maintaining the CTA in all circumstances.

As part of that commitment, the Government has entered into a Convention on Social Security with the Government of the United Kingdom replicates the current arrangements that apply to the coordination of social security benefits between the two jurisdictions post-Brexit. There is no provision in the Convention which will change the existing practices in relation to fuel or other payments. Existing arrangements will continue.