Cuts in welfare allowances take effect

 

CUTS TO fuel, electricity and phone allowances for some 630,000 social welfare recipients have come into force from this week.

The cuts to the household benefits package and the fuel allowance will reduce payments to pensioners and other social welfare recipients by almost €20 a month and up to €35.29 during the winter months.

The cuts will result in savings in 2011 of €17 million and €65 million in a full year, the Department of Social Protection has said.

The cuts approved by Government last July were regrettable but necessary to achieve savings due to our commitments to the IMF-EU-ECB troika, Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton had said.

Allowances will return to 2007 levels, meaning those in receipt of these contributions will receive €8 less towards electricity a month and €8 less towards their monthly gas allowance.

Those in receipt of a smokeless fuel allowance will have the extra €3.90 weekly allowance they receive during the winter months abolished.

The telephone allowance will be cut from €25.91 a month to €22.22 except in the case of Eircom customers – the Government has negotiated a total saving of €26.86 off their bills each month.

The department said it will continue to provide for vulnerable people with special or additional heating needs through the heating supplement and exceptional needs payment scheme under the supplementary welfare allowance plan.

“Assistance with the cost of fuel, electricity, gas and telephone bills has always been an important element of social welfare provision and will continue. My department will spend over €530 million, over half a billion euros, in 2011 on these schemes,” Ms Burton said.