Written Answers. - Social Welfare Code.

Wednesday, 3 December 2003

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 576 No. 2

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  210.  Mr. R. Bruton  Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton   asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs  Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan   if she has changed the rules in 2003 in respect of the payment of the Christmas bonus; and if the Christmas bonus applies to the payment of the fuel allowance. [29431/03]

Minister for Social and Family Affairs (Mary Coughlan): Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  I have not changed the rules for receipt of the Christmas bonus. A special Christmas bonus payment was first introduced in December 1980 for social welfare pensioners and people who depend solely on their social welfare payments for income support in recognition of the additional financial burden associated with that time of year.

For the past three years the Christmas bonus amount was set at 100% of the recipient's normal weekly payment. In 2000 and 2001, the minimum amount payable was £20, equivalent to €25.40. [595]The 2002 bonus was also set at 100% or a double week's payment, and the minimum amount payable was increased to €30. The 2003 Christmas bonus will again be paid at 100%, subject to the minimum €30 payment.

In addition to recipients of long-term social welfare payments, the Christmas bonus is also paid to certain recipients of the employment and income supports applicable to persons participating in FÁS, VTOS, job initiative and community employment schemes, and to recipients of certain health board payments such as domiciliary care allowance, blind welfare allowance and mobility allowance.

[596]The aim of the national fuel scheme is to assist householders who are in receipt of long-term social welfare or health board payments and who are unable to provide for their own heating needs. The fuel allowance is an additional payment of €9 per week payable to eligible households, with an additional €3.90 payable in smokeless zones. These allowances have been extended in duration from 26 weeks when introduced, and are now paid over the course of a 29 week fuel season, thus providing income support over the winter period. The Christmas bonus is not applicable to fuel allowance payments but virtually all recipients of fuel allowance benefit from the Christmas bonus payment.

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