Expanded Eligibility - Review your entitlements
Updated: Dec 30, 2022
Councillor Mark Hackett and I are using some quieter time to issue a joint message for people to review their entitlements to Government supports in advance of changes to many schemes.
This Government is very aware that some people are facing very real challenges in areas from home energy, to housing, to health. Many schemes have been reviewed in recent months with the criteria for eligibility widening from as soon as January. This is an excellent time for people to review their eligibility for schemes they didn’t previously qualify for. While we can only touch on some of these schemes here we encourage you to check out the Citizen's Information website for more information on your own situation.
We are particularly glad to see a new means test for the Over 70’s Fuel Allowance which is expected to see over 80,000 additional households qualify for a payment for the first time. The Fuel Allowance is a very important, targeted support to keep people warm in their homes. Another important change is to the means test for the Farm Assist payment with a doubling in the amount of income that can be derived from agri-environmental schemes (for example: Glas, ACRES) and counted in assessing means. As a result of this measure, €5,000 can be disregarded from January. Both small measures on paper but with the potential to make big changes in people’s lives.
Another significant change is a €40 per week increase in the Working Family Payment threshold.
As a Green Party members we support free universal contraception for all and am delighted that the next step towards this objective, the inclusion of 26 year old women rolls out from 2nd January. That means that all women from 17 to 26 years are eligible for this very comprehensive scheme from the new year, with a scheduled expansion to age 30 years in September 2023. While the vast majority are, it's best to check in advance that your medical practitioner or pharmacy is registered for the scheme.
Some extensions of eligibility won’t see new or increased payments to individuals but instead extend protections or opportunities to them: The CE scheme is one example, where participation is now open to spouses, civil partners or cohabitants of Jobseeker’s Allowance recipients.
New energy 'Vulnerable Customer' category
Another example is the new category of ‘vulnerable customers’ to include those in receipt of Fuel Allowance, Jobseekers' Allowance for over six months, Working Family Payment, One-Parent Family Payment, Domiciliary Care Allowance or Carers Allowance. Vulnerable customers must be placed on the most economical tariff by their suppliers: Make sure to get in touch with your utility company if you are in these categories as this change does not automatically apply.
New price ceilings and income thresholds now apply to schemes aimed at assisting people in buying a home.
Some of the changes will apply automatically, others require action on your part. As said above, these are only some of the schemes that are expanding and most of what you will need is available through the 'My situation' section of the Citizen’s Information website and additional support is available through their helpline: 0818 07 4000, Monday to Friday, 9am-8pm.
However, there are times when extra information, clarification or representation is needed and we are both always happy to assist. If you are in the Edenderry MD please feel free to contact Mark, otherwise, within Laois or Offaly, please contact me.
The following Government Press Releases may be helpful in identifying a scheme which suits your situation:
gov.ie - Minister Humphreys announces new expanded Fuel Allowance scheme is now open for applications (www.gov.ie)
gov.ie - Minister Humphreys announces enactment of the Social Welfare Bill 2022 (www.gov.ie)