Dáil Éireann - Volume 445 - 11 October, 1994
Written Answers. - National Fuel Scheme.
Ms McManus Ms McManus
 176. Ms McManus asked the Minister for Social Welfare the plans, if any, he has to raise the weekly fuel allowance to £7.00 in view of the high price of fuel; the plans, if any, he has to extend the fuel allowance in view of the fact that elderly people in particular still need to light their fires during the summer months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [640/94]
Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods) Michael J. Woods
Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): The national fuel scheme assists householders who are on long term social welfare or health board payments and who are unable to provide for their own heating needs. A payment of £5 per week is payable to eligible households from mid-October to mid-April. An additional payment of £3 per week is made in the Dublin area because of the higher cost of smokeless fuel. The smokeless fuel allowance will be extended to include Cork city and adjacent areas from the beginning of 1995. The national fuel scheme has been extended to include recipients of disabled persons rehabilitation allowance which would benefit up to 2,000 people, from October 1994.
Expenditure on the scheme is expected to be in the region of £41 million this year. It is estimated that some 256,000 recipients will receive the £5  fuel allowance and some 80,000 recipients will qualify for the £3 smokeless fuel allowance. Participants on the community employment scheme who qualified for the fuel allowance prior to participation on the scheme will retain the allowance.
The period from mid-October to mid-April during which the fuel allowance applies covers the period when average temperatures are lower than normal and heating is required on a fairly continuous basis. There are no proposals to extend the duration of the scheme.
The question of an increase in the rate of the fuel allowance in the light of the modest level of increase in fuel prices since the present rate was fixed is a matter for consideration in the context of the budget. Increasing the rate of the fuel allowance by £2 per week would cost some £14.7 million.
Dáil Éireann 445 Written Answers. National Fuel Scheme.