Older people will continue to get their State Pension at current levels. There are no changes to the Fuel Allowance, Free travel, Free Television Licence, Over 80 Allowance, Islander Allowance and the Living Alone Allowance. Their values are being maintained.
The value of the Telephone Allowance will be reduced. The new monthly rate of €9.50 will show as a credit on the customer’s bill or will be paid as a cash allowance.
The Electricity/Gas Allowance will be set at a single rate based on the average market rate across all suppliers currently available (for an unchanged 150 units per month). The new rate of €35 per month will show as a cash credit for those who receive a bill or be paid as a cash allowance.
Minister Burton said: “As far as older people are concerned, I have long signalled that I would not reduce the pension and that I greatly value the Free Travel scheme, Free TV Licence scheme, Fuel Allowance and Living Alone Allowance. These are key elements of active citizenship for older people, connecting them to the wider world and helping them to enjoy a happy and comfortable retirement. These benefits remain unchanged.
“I have to reduce the spending on the Electricity/Gas Allowance. We will in future pay the best average market rate available. I want to encourage recipients to buy from the cheapest suppliers in the market where this is possible. The idea behind this reform is to get the best value for every cent that the Department contributes to the cost of heating homes. I understand that these changes are painful for people who are struggling with the fallout from the economic crisis,” she concluded.