Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys has announced the start of the National Fuel Scheme for the 2020/2021 season which will benefit those in receipt of Farm Assist payments.

The fuel allowance, which is a means-assessed payment, will be paid for 28 weeks compared to 24 weeks for the previous season.

It is paid at a weekly rate of €24.50 or, if the recipient prefers, by way of two lump sum payments of €343 each. One fuel allowance is paid per household. 

The estimated expenditure for this non-statutory scheme is €261.35 million with over 352,000 households expected to benefit from the fuel allowance payment this season.

Minister Humphreys commented:

“The fuel allowance will be an added support for many households throughout the state as we approach our winter season.

It is a financial aid for people living in low-income households to help towards the cost of heating oil, electricity, gas or solid fuel.

“As an alternative to a weekly payment, householders also have the option of receiving their fuel allowance in two lump sum payments, the value of each being €343.

“Householders who have already chosen this option will receive their first lump sum along with their primary social welfare payment on their appropriate payment day starting this week. The second lump sum payment will issue during the second week of January 2021,” she added.

The fuel allowance scheme provides a support for householders on long-term social welfare payments to cover additional heating expenses over the winter months.

Those who qualified for the fuel allowance payment last year will automatically receive the payment again this year, if they continue to fulfil the eligibility requirements. They do not need to re-apply.

Criteria for eligibility

A person may qualify for fuel allowance if they are getting one of the following payments from the Department of Social Protection:

  • State Pension (Contributory) or State Pension (Non-Contributory);
  • Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s (Contributory) or (Non-Contributory) Pension;
  • Incapacity Supplement;
  • Blind Pension;
  • Invalidity Pension;
  • Disability Allowance;
  • Deserted Wife’s Benefit or Allowance;
  • One-Parent Family Payment;
  • Guardian’s Payment (Contributory and Non-Contributory);
  • Farm Assist;
  • Long-term Jobseeker’s Allowance;
  • Basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance.

A person may be entitled to the fuel allowance if they are getting one of the following payments from the Health Service Executive (HSE) – Disabled Person’s Rehabilitation Allowance; Infectious Diseases Maintenance Allowance; a social security payment from another country or a special Department of Defence allowance.

Those who are taking part in an employment or educational scheme are also eligible and they are entitled to keep their secondary benefits.

Recipients of the payments must:
  • Normally live in the state;
  • Are living alone or only with a qualified spouse, civil partner, cohabitant or qualified children*;
  • Other people getting one of the qualifying payments who would also qualify for fuel allowance in their own right;
  • A person who is providing full-time care and attention if the applicant has a disability or long-term illness;
  • A person getting short-term Jobseeker’s Allowance, the Pandemic Unemployment Payment or Basis Supplementary Welfare Allowance;
  • And the applicant and other members of their household are unable to pay for the heating needs from their own resources.

*A qualified child is under age 18 or aged 18 to 22 if in full-time education.