The Living Alone Allowance is a payment for people aged 66 years or over who are in receipt of certain social welfare payments, including State pensions, and who are living alone. It is also paid to people aged under 66 who live alone and are in receipt of Disability Allowance, Invalidity Pension, Incapacity Supplement or Blind Pension. This Living Alone Allowance is not means tested and the payment is made as an increase to the recipient’s primary social welfare payment.
Budget 2021 provides for a €5 increase to the Living Alone Allowance from €14 to €19 per week giving a total payment of €988 over the course of the year in addition to the recipient's primary social welfare payment. This represents a 36% increase in the value of the Allowance. The overall cost of the increase in 2021 is estimated at €57.5m. The implementation of the increase is scheduled with effect from the week commencing 4th January 2021. It is estimated that there will be approx. 221,700 recipients of this payment in 2021. The increase will require amendment to primary legislation. The necessary legislative provision is included in the Social Welfare Bill 2020 which is currently before the Oireachtas.
The fuel allowance is a payment of €24.50 per week for 28 weeks (a total of €686 each year) from October to April. 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.
As part of Budget 2021, it was announced that there would be a €3.50 increase to the weekly rate of fuel allowance. This will increase the weekly rate payable to €28 and will take effect from week commencing 4th January 2021. The cost of this increase is estimated at €36.8m in 2021 and affects approx. 375,600 recipient households. While the increase in the fuel allowance payment took account of the increase in carbon tax on solid fuels from May 2021, the fuel allowance rate will increase from the 4th January 2021 thus ensuring recipients will benefit from the increased payment over this winter period.
I trust this clarifies these matters for the Deputy.