Immediate Increases In Winter Fuel And Domestic Gas Allowances Are Announced For Over 300,000 Welfare Customers


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Seamus Brennan - Increases & Supports Are Targeted At Easing Winter Heating Pressures And Protecting Those On Welfare

The Minister for Social Affairs, Séamus Brennan T.D., today announced increases in solid fuel and domestic gas allowances for more than 300,000 welfare customers to assist them in meeting the costs of additional heating needs and increased fuel prices during the winter season.

The value of the weekly fuel allowance under the National Fuel Scheme has been increased by €5, from €9 to €14, with a supplement of €3.90 on top of that - bringing total to €17.90 - in designated smokeless areas. It is estimated that some 274,000 people - 151,000 with basic fuel allowance and 123,000 with smokeless fuel supplement - will benefit directly at an estimated annual cost of just over €125m.

The increased fuel allowance rate, which commenced from 25th September, is paid for 29 weeks up to mid April 2007. It is estimated that the annual value of the fuel support is €406 for those individuals on the basic allowance and €519.10 for those with the smokeless fuel supplement.

Minister Brennan also announced that from today, when domestic gas prices increase by 33.8%, he is significantly increasing the annual value of the Natural Gas Allowance under the Households Benefits Package of supports by more than €200, bringing it from €313.17 to €516.00, in order to protect the 26,000 welfare and other recipients of the allowance from the increased gas costs.

The increase in the value of the allowance it intended to cover the increased cost of the supply charge along with the increased cost of the 1674 kilowatt hours of energy supplied to households, while also providing for an increase in the number of kilowatt hours of energy supplied to these customers. The increased value of the allowance will provide for an increase in the kilowatt hours of energy per annum from 1674 to approx 3600 for each household.

The overall effect of this measure will increase the annual cost of the Gas Allowance to the Department of Social Affairs to more than €14.5 million.

Minister Brennan has also announced that from the 1st January, 2007, when domestic electricity prices are set to increase by 19.4%, the number of free units of electricity allowed per year will be increased from 1,800 units 2,400 units, in addition to payment of the standing charge.

There are 315,000 customers availing of free electricity units under the Household Benefits Package and of those, 271,000 use all their present allocated units. It is estimated the value of the present number of free units to each customer is €260 per year. When account is taken of the increased cost and the increased number of free units, the value to each customer from January next will be in the region of €414 per year.

The increased free electricity units are estimated to cost the Department €46 million in a full year, with the cost of the price increase alone expected to amount to €15 million.

Minister Brennan said: "For many people on welfare supports, particularly older people and those with disabilities, the winter season can be a very difficult time as the cost of maintaining adequate heating increases. This season there is even more pressures as energy costs are rising significantly compared with previous years. All of these new additional support measures are targeted at easing those pressures and protecting all those people on welfare who are entitled to free energy and fuel allowances. In other words, the State will pay more to absorb the price increases and so fully maintain the existing benefits of our most vulnerable people".

The Household Benefits Package, costing €261 million per year, comprises of the Telephone Allowance, Electricity/Natural Gas Allowance and Free TV Licence, and is available to people living in the State aged 66 years or over who are in receipt of a social welfare type payment or who satisfy a means test.

It is also available to carers and people with disabilities under the age of 66 who are in receipt of certain welfare type payments and to all people aged 70 years and over, regardless of their income or household composition.

NB: Table attached with details of the number of recipients of the various Household Benefits and the type of Social Welfare payment received

Number of Recipients of Household Benefits by Type of Payment Received 2005

Type Of Payment

Free Electricity Allowance

Free Television Licence (1)

Free Television Licence (1)

Free Telephone Rental

Free Bottled Gas

Free Natural Gas

Free Travel (2)

Old Age Contributory Pension

53,512

53,512

59,595

57,940

27

6,056

94,571

Old Age (Non-Contributory) Pension

44,392

44,392

45,515

43,764

89

1,034

82,917

Retirement Pension

52,374

52,374

58,893

56,050

34

6,485

82,895

Widow/er's (Contributory) Pension

52,469

52,469

58,161

57,205

3

5,689

69,581

Widow/er's (Non-Contributory) Pension

9,508

9,508

9,757

9,590

10

239

12,551

Invalidity Pension

20,299

20,299

22,444

19,706

16

2,129

50,791

Deserted Wives Allowance

347

347

382

376

0

35

556

Deserted Wives Benefit

527

527

630

608

1

102

925

One Parent Family Payment

39

39

40

34

0

1

132

Occupational Injury Benefit

256

256

284

279

0

28

319

Free Fuel

1,574

1,574

1,596

1,580

0

22

1,503

Blind Pensions

695

695

729

672

1

33

1,878

No Active Pension

23,741

23,741

26,168

28,618

21

2,406

120,089

Garda Widow's Pension (3)

91

91

100

157

0

9

1,311

Carer's Allowance

10,912

10,912

11,712

11,564

24

776

23,758

Disability Allowance

21,483

21,483

22,943

17,841

113

1,347

88,098

British Pension (3)

3,004

3,004

3,134

4,044

1

129

5,132

Others

1,085

1,085

1,173

1,325

3

85

2,650

Total

296,308

296,308

323,256

311,353

343

26,605

639,657

(1) Refers to the number of Licences issued.

(2) Refers to the number of persons in respect of whom travel passes have been issued.

(3) These Pensions are not administered by the Department of Social and Family Affairs.

Press Release Ends


Last modified:02/10/2006
 

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