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Social Welfare Eligibility

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 25 November 2021

Thursday, 25 November 2021

Ceisteanna (46)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

46. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Social Protection the review her Department has carried out into extending the qualifying criteria for the payment of the fuel allowance to include all persons in receipt of the carer’s allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [57987/21]

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 over a full fuel season) 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.

Any decision to allow all those in receipt of Carer's Allowance to receive the fuel allowance payment would represent a fundamental change to the nature of the scheme and would have to be considered in the overall policy and budgetary context. The fuel allowance payment would no longer be a household or means tested payment that is targeted at those who are most likely to require additional help over the winter period.

While Carer's Allowance is not a qualifying payment for Fuel Allowance, a person in receipt of Carer's Allowance may avail of the fuel allowance payment in certain circumstances. Fuel Allowance is a household-based payment, and a carer will very often live with and care for a person in receipt of a qualifying payment for Fuel Allowance. Income from full rate Carer's Allowance is disregarded from the fuel means test, if the carer is providing full time care and attention to the Fuel Allowance applicant, his/her qualified spouse/civil partner or cohabitant or qualified child(ren).

If a person is getting certain qualifying social welfare payments and also providing full time care and attention to another person, s/he can keep his/her main social protection payment in addition to receiving the half-rate Carer's Allowance. S/he can also receive an extra half-rate Carer’s Allowance if s/he cares for more than one person. The payment of half-rate Carer’s Allowance does not preclude a person from qualifying for Fuel Allowance. If a person is in receipt of a non-contributory social welfare payment and a half-rate Carer’s Allowance, then s/he is deemed to have satisfied the means test and Fuel Allowance is payable, subject to all remaining criteria being satisfied. If a person is in receipt of a contributory social welfare payment and a half-rate Carer’s Allowance then s/he will have to satisfy a means test in order to qualify for Fuel Allowance.

Under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme, Exceptional Needs Payments may be made to help meet an essential, once-off cost which customers are unable to meet out of their own resources, and this may include exceptional heating costs. Decisions on such payments are made on a case-by-case basis.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

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