Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys has today announced the start of the National Fuel Allowance Scheme for the 2022-2023 season.

The fuel allowance is a means-assessed payment and will be paid for 28 weeks to over 371,000 households across the state.

The payment is made at the weekly rate of €33 or, if preferred, by way of two lump sum payments.

As part of the social protection package in Budget 2023 of €2.2 billion, a €400 additional lump sum payment will be paid to all households in receipt of the fuel allowance payment the week commencing November 14, 2022.

In addition, as part of Budget 2023, funding was secured for the largest ever expansion of the National Fuel Allowance Scheme.

This expansion will bring an additional 81,000 households into the scheme with a new means test taking effect for over-70s from January.

Under the new means test for over-70s, a single person can have income of €500/week and a couple can have income of €1,000/week.

In the case of a couple where one person is under 70 and one person is over 70, they will be assessed using the over-70s means test criteria.

The weekly means threshold for those aged under 70 will also be increased by €80/week, from €120 to €200 above the weekly rate of state pension contributory.

The Department of Social Protection is now working on developing the necessary IT systems and application forms to give effect to these changes from January.

The National Fuel Allowance Scheme is a means tested payment to assist pensioners and other long-term social welfare dependent householders with their winter heating costs.

Only one fuel allowance is payable per household.

From January 2023, the Disablement Benefit payment and the Half-Rate Carers Allowance payment will both be disregarded when assessing means for fuel allowance purposes.

Commenting on the launch of the scheme today, Minister Humphreys said: “The fuel allowance plays a vital role in supporting hundreds of thousands of households with their heating costs over the winter months.”

“In order to ease the pressure and stress that many households are currently facing, an additional €400 lump sum cost-of-living payment will be made to all households in receipt of fuel allowance in mid-November. This will bring the total value of the Fuel Allowance to €1,324 per household,” she added.

“I am very conscious that older people are particularly vulnerable to the cold. However many pensioners currently fall just outside the income thresholds to qualify for Fuel Allowance. For that reason, I am introducing a new over-70s means test for fuel allowance from January.”

“Broadening the eligibility of the fuel allowance to include more older people was a priority for me in the budget and my department is now working on developing the necessary IT systems and application forms,” the minister said.