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Explainer: What is the Fuel Allowance and who can qualify for it?

It was announced in the Budget this week that the Fuel Allowance would increase by €5 per week.

Image: Shutterstock/Elena Elisseeva

ON TUESDAY, THE Government unveiled its Budget for 2022, announcing how it plans to spend a €4.7 billion package.

With energy prices on the rise, the Government’s Fuel Allowance and whether any increases would be made to it was of interest to many.

It was confirmed on Tuesday that the allowance was increasing by €5 to €33 a week. This increase kicked in immediately. However, it won’t be paid out until the first week in November and will be backdated by three weeks. 

So, what is the Fuel Allowance, how does it work and who qualifies for it? Let’s take a look…

What is the Fuel Allowance?

The Fuel Allowance is a means-tested payment to help with the cost of heating your home during the winter months.

It is paid to people to are receiving certain long-term social welfare payments.

The aim of the scheme is to help qualified households in receipt of certain social welfare payments with their heating costs.

The allowance represents a contribution towards a person’s normal heating expenses and, according to the Department of Social Protection, it’s not intended to meet those costs in full.

Only one Fuel Allowance is paid to a household.

The 2021-2022 Fuel Allowance season started on 27 September and will run until April 2022.

How do I find out if I qualify for the Fuel Allowance?

As noted above, the Fuel Allowance is a means-tested payment.

To get a Fuel Allowance, a person must be living alone (or with certain eligible people, such as a dependent spouse or child or a person receiving Carer’s Allowance), living in Ireland and getting one of the qualifying payments listed here.

What is the rate of Fuel Allowance?

Up until this week, the Fuel Allowance was €28 per week.

It was announced in this week’s Budget that the weekly rate of Fuel Allowance was increasing by €5 to €33 from this week.

It’s generally paid with your social welfare payment on the same day.

However, people can choose to get it paid weekly or paid in two lump sums. For this season, the first lump sum of €392 was paid on the week beginning 27 September and the second lump sum will be paid the week beginning 3 January 2022.

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When does the €5 increase kick in?

After the Budget announcement this week, there was some confusion online as to when the €5 increase would kick in.

The Department of Social Protection has confirmed that the €5 increase kicked in on 12 October.

However, this increase won’t be paid out until the week commencing 1 November and will be backdated to 12 October. 

Three weeks worth of arrears of €15 will be paid for weekly recipients and 12 weeks worth of arrears of €60 for lump sum recipients will be paid. 

How do I apply for it?

People applying for the Fuel Allowance for the first time will need to fill in an application form, which can be found here.

People can also get this form from their local post office.

People should apply for the allowance before the start of the heating season. The Department says it cannot backdate allowance for people who apply after this.

It is not necessary for a person to reapply for the Fuel Allowance each year as long as their circumstances remain the same and they continue to get the same social welfare payment.

If a person’s circumstances have changed, they should contact the Department without delay to ensure they still have an entitlement to the allowance. 

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