I propose to take Questions Nos. 36 and 50 together.
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. In Budget 2022, the Government announced a number of measures in relation to the fuel allowance scheme, including:
- An increase in the weekly rate of fuel allowance by €5 with immediate effect bringing it to €33. This is expected to benefit 398,000 households in 2022 at a cost of just under €55.8 million.
- The qualifying period for Jobseeker’s and Supplementary Welfare Allowance recipients reducing from 15 to 12 months with effect from September 2022.
- The means test weekly threshold increasing by €20 to €120. While it was originally intended to introduce this from the 1st January 2022, I asked my officials to prioritise this work. I am happy to tell the Deputies that this work will now 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 Deputies.