Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Ceisteanna (595)

Danny Healy-Rae

Ceist:

595. Deputy Danny Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if qualifying applicants for the fuel allowance will be assured that they will continue to receive the payment in 2020 and into the future; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50282/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar 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, to over 368,000 low income households, at an estimated cost of €240 million in 2019. The purpose of this payment is to assist these 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.

The fuel allowance is an important measure that assists pensioners and other welfare dependent householders to address income deficiency, especially during the winter when a household faces increased heating needs. Heating costs represent a relatively higher proportion of the resources available to low income households and, therefore, the objectives of the scheme remain valid and there are no plans to abolish the fuel allowance payment.

Furthermore in Budget 2020 I increased the weekly payment rate of fuel allowance to €24.50, a €2 a week increase which will more than compensate the three lowest income deciles in respect of the increased carbon tax - the very people that the fuel allowance is targeted towards. This ensures that the most vulnerable in society are protected in this regard.

To qualify for fuel allowance an applicant must satisfy a number of qualifying conditions. If an applicant satisfies all these conditions they will receive the allowance. However, continued payment of the allowance is dependent on the qualifying applicant continuing to satisfy all the qualifying conditions. The payment of fuel allowance will only ever be stopped in cases where a person receiving fuel allowance no longer satisfies the qualifying conditions.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.