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Winter fuel allowance paid next week 02.10.15

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 begins.
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 added.
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 13.
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 winter.
This compares to a current national average of about 570 euro per thousand litres.
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