SOME 400,000 welfare
recipients including pensioners and long-term
unemployed in Donegal will receive a 20 euro top-up
from next week as the winter fuel allowance scheme
The seasonal payment was cut by six weeks to 26
weeks during the recession but advocates for the
elderly are now urging the Government to begin
reversing the cuts.
A Department of Social Protection spokesperson
confirmed that payment of the fuel allowance will
start the week beginning Monday, October 5.
"The weekly payment of €20 under the National Fuel
Scheme assists qualified households who are in
receipt of long-term social welfare payments and who
are unable to provide for their own heating needs
during the winter season," said the spokesperson.
"One fuel allowance is paid per household (and) is
subject to a number of qualifying conditions
including satisfying a means test.
"The allowance represents a contribution towards a
person's normal heating expenses and is not intended
to meet those costs in full," the spokesperson
Long-term recipients will receive the top-up
automatically with their primary payment. It is
currently worth a total of 520 euro per qualifying
household compared to 640 euro when the payment ran
for 32 weeks.
The duration of the fuel allowance this year will be
confirmed in Budget 2016 to be delivered on October
But in its pre-budget submission, Age Action Ireland
has urged Social Protection Minister Joan Burton to
begin reversing the six-week cut by extending the
scheme by three weeks this year at a cost of €22.5
million. The charity also urged Ms Burton to allow
recipients receive the allowance in two lump sum
payments if they rely on home heating oil and must
pay suppliers a large amount of money in one go.
Meanwhile, oil users can look forward to substantial
savings this winter as the cost of crude oil
plummets on world markets.
Irish householders were forced to pay about 850 euro
for a thousand litres of home heating oil in winter
2013 and about 750 euro per thousand litres last
This compares to a current national average of about
570 euro per thousand litres.