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Social Welfare Benefits

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 25 November 2021

Thursday, 25 November 2021

Ceisteanna (19)

Joan Collins


19. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will implement the increase in the means test for the fuel allowance with immediate effect as of midnight of Budget 2022. [57548/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

The Fuel Allowance is a payment of €33.00 per week for 28 weeks (a total of €924 each year) from October to April, to 369,000 low income households, at an estimated cost of €300 million in 2021. 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.

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 was also introduced bringing it to €33. This benefited 398,000 households immediately with a full year cost in 2022 of just under €55.8 million.

- The qualifying period for Jobseeker’s and Supplementary Welfare Allowance recipients was reduced from 15 to 12 months with effect from September 2022. This is expected to benefit some 3,300 households.

- The original intention was to introduce the revised means test for the Free Fuel Allowance on 1st January 2022, increasing the weekly threshold by €20 to €120 representing a 20% increase enabling more people to qualify for this support. Cognisant of rising fuel costs, I asked my officials to prioritise the work required so that this change could be implemented at the same time as the increase in the Fuel Allowance in October 2021. I am happy to tell the Deputy that this work will be completed at the end of this week with the effective date for the implementation of the revised means test now backdated to the Budget.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.