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Social Welfare Benefits

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 1 March 2022

Tuesday, 1 March 2022

Ceisteanna (513)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

513. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Social Protection the amount of money spent on the heating supplement; the total number of recipients of the heating supplement; the number of recipients aged 65 years or older in each of the years 2008 to 2021, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11357/22]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

The supplementary welfare allowance scheme offers a safety net within the overall social welfare system by providing assistance to those whose means are insufficient to meet their own needs and those of their dependents.    

Under the scheme, my Department may award a supplement to assist with on going or recurring costs that cannot be met from the person's own resources and are deemed to be necessary.  This can include a heating supplement where a person has need for additional heating due to ill health or infirmity. There are some 970 people currently receiving it of whom 523 are aged 65 years or older. 

The expenditure on heating supplement is provided for under the heading of “other supplements” which also include supplements such as travel and fuel. Provisional expenditure under these supplements was over €4.0 million in 2021 and €4.33 million has been provided for 2022.   

Heating supplements are payable at the discretion of the officers administering the scheme.  All the relevant circumstances of the case are taken into account in order to ensure that the payments target those most in need of assistance.  

While statistics are maintained on the number of recipients of heat supplement, the total number of recipients is not available for the period 2008-2010 and a breakdown by age is not available for the period 2008-2011.  Table 1 shows the total number of heating supplement recipients for the years 2011 to 2021 and those aged 65 years or older in each of the years 2012 to 2021.  

More generally, my Department also provides discretionary Exceptional Needs Payments (ENPs) where appropriate to people who face difficulties in meeting fuel bills.  In 2021, over 2,300  exceptional needs payments totaling almost €750,000 were made to assist with household bills and heating costs.  

Anyone who struggles with heating costs is entitled to make an application for a payment under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance schemes.  I would encourage them to contact the Community Welfare Service at their local Intreo Centre and, once they meet the eligibility criteria, they will be provided with additional financial support.  There is a national Income Support Helpline in place - 0818-800024 - which will direct callers to the appropriate office.    

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.  

Table 1: Total number of heating supplement recipients for 2011 to 2021 and for those aged 65 years or older in each of the years 2012 to 2021.

Year

Total Number of Recipients

Recipients aged 65 years or older

2011

3,053

N/A

2012

                       2,735

                             1,535

2013

                       2,288

                             1,298

2014

                       2,018

                             1,139

2015

                       1,794

                                982

2016

                       1,665

                                908

2017

                       1,589

                                851

2018

                       1,398

                                732

2019

                       1,253

                                646

2020

                       1,123

                                580

2021

                       1,101

                                569 

 

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