Major changes to widen access needed ahead of winter crisis
Intreo staff unaware of recent changes and rejecting many valid claims
Gino Kenny TD has warned that the government are sleep walking into a major crisis on the fuel allowance scheme for the coming winter. The TD said the cost of living crisis and the greater need of many for help were propelling many thousands into energy poverty. The TD noted 20,000 people so far have been refused fuel allowance up to February this year.
The Dublin Mid-West TD raised the issue during Questions to the Minister for Social Protection this morning in the Dáil and called for wider access to fuel allowance, and also for barriers to people in energy poverty to be removed.
The TD also highlighted that staff dealing with fuel allowance applications seem unaware of recent changes that permits for people who have been on jobseekers payments for just 12 months and not the previous benchmark of 15 to receive the allowance.
He said: “People are having applications rejected repeatedly for not being on jobseekers payments for 15 months, when that length of time has changed.”
The TD said the wider crisis in the scheme was the continual refusal of applicants and the cutting off of existing numbers on the allowance for reaching current income thresholds.
“The current means testing rules mean many thousands in energy poverty cannot access the allowance, and in some cases, we have 80 year olds being cut off from the allowance because of small rises in private pensions driving them over the current limits. All of these issues will drive many many more people into energy poverty at the worst possible time as we enter winter.”
The TD called on Minister Humphreys to stop her department removing anybody who has been on the allowance and to widen the income limits for access to the scheme.