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KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: Fuel Allowance

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What is the Fuel Allowance?

A Fuel Allowance is a payment to help with the cost of heating your home during the winter months. You can get the Fuel Allowance, if you are getting a long-term Social Welfare payment and you are unable to provide for your heating needs from your own resources. Only one Fuel Allowance is paid to a household. Fuel Allowance is generally paid with your Social Welfare payment on the same day. You can choose to get Fuel Allowance paid weekly or paid in two lump sums. The lump sum option is not available to people getting payments under the Rural Social Scheme, Tús, Gateway, Community Employment or Supplementary Welfare Allowance.

Budget 2022

People getting Jobseekers Allowance or Supplementary Welfare Allowance may qualify for Fuel Allowance after 12 months (down from 15 months), if all other qualifying conditions are met (September 2022).

How to qualify for Fuel Allowance

To get the Fuel Allowance you must be living alone (or with certain people listed below), living in Ireland and getting one of the following qualifying payments:

* Qualifying Social Insurance Payments
* State Pension (Contributory)
* Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's (Contributory) Pension
* Incapacity Supplement under the Occupational Injuries Benefit scheme
* Invalidity Pension
* Guardian's Payment (Contributory)
* Death Benefit under the Occupational Injuries Scheme
* A pension or benefit from a country covered by EU Regulations or a country with which Ireland has a bilateral social security agreement (provided there is an equivalent Irish payment)
* Qualifying Social Assistance Payments
* State Pension (Non-Contributory)
* Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's (Non-Contributory) Pension
* Disability Allowance
* Blind Pension
* Deserted Wife's Benefit or Allowance
* One-Parent Family Payment (OFP)
* Guardian's Payment (Non-Contributory)
* Farm Assist
* Basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance for more than 455 days (over 15 months - it is paid on a seven-day week basis so 15 months’ payment is reached after day 455) and Jobseeker's Allowance for more than 390 days (over 15 months - it is paid on a six-day week basis so 15 months’ payment is reached after day 390).
* Jobseeker's Transitional payment (JST)

If you are taking part in certain schemes - Back to Work Allowance, Back to Work Enterprise Allowance (BTWEA), Rural Social Scheme, Tús or Community Employment you are entitled to keep your secondary benefits.

You must live alone or only with:

* A dependent spouse, civil partner or cohabitant and/or dependent children
* A person who is getting Carer's Allowance or Carer's Benefit and is caring for you or for your dependent spouse, partner or cohabitant on a full-time basis
* A person getting short-term Jobseeker's Allowance or basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance
* Other people who are getting the qualifying payments and who would also be eligible for a Fuel Allowance in their own right

And

* You and other members of your household are unable to provide for your heating needs from your own resources

Some of the reasons you may not get a Fuel Allowance

* You live with someone who is not getting one of the qualifying payments for the Fuel Allowance
* Your heating needs are met under a deed transferring property
* You are on a qualifying social insurance payment and have income above the means test limit
* You are getting one of the following social insurance payments: Jobseeker's Benefit, Illness Benefit, Enhanced Illness Benefit, Occupational Injuries Benefit, Maternity Benefit or Disablement Benefit. Note that you do not qualify for Fuel Allowance if you are getting any of these payments with a qualifying payment, for example, a half-rate Maternity Benefit with a One-Parent Family Payment.

How your income is assessed for Fuel Allowance

Fuel Allowance is a means-tested payment where the Department of Social Protection (DSP) examines all your sources of income. Your gross weekly income must be below a certain amount to pass the means test. You are usually accepted as passing the means test for Fuel Allowance, if you are already getting a qualifying social assistance payment.

The amount of means that you are allowed to have for the Fuel Allowance is the current maximum rate of State Pension (Contributory) including any increases that you might get for your age, living alone and dependants, plus €120. If you are over 80, add an extra €10 to the appropriate DSP payment rate.

Rate of Fuel Allowance

If you choose to receive the payment on a weekly basis, the Fuel Allowance is paid from the end of September to April each year for 28 weeks at a rate of €33 per week. The total Fuel Allowance payment over 28 weeks is €924. Alternatively you can choose for it to be paid to you in two lump sums, in September and January. To get your Fuel Allowance paid in two lump sums, fill in the Change the Payment Frequency form at least one month before the first lump sum is due.

How to apply for Fuel Allowance

Applying for the first time you need to fill in application form NFS 1 which you can get from your local CIC or have it posted out to you. Be aware that if you apply for the Fuel Allowance after the start of the Fuel Allowance season, it will not be backdated. You do not need to reapply for the Fuel Allowance each year as long as your circumstances remain the same and you continue to get the same Social Welfare payment.

The Fuel Allowance will be included in your weekly payment if you are getting a Social Welfare payment. If you are not getting a Social Welfare payment, your Fuel Allowance can be paid directly into your account in a financial institution or you can collect the allowance at your local post office.

If more than one person in a household qualifies

Only one Fuel Allowance payment is paid to a household. If two or more people who would qualify for a Fuel Allowance live together, only one Fuel Allowance is paid to one person in that household.

If everyone in the household is getting a social assistance payment, they can decide who applies for Fuel Allowance. If one household member is on a social insurance payment then they should apply in the first instance.

Where to apply for Fuel Allowance

This depends on what Social Welfare payment you are getting. You should complete and return the form to the section that pays your main Social Welfare payment. If unsure, please contact your local CIC for assistance.

For anyone needing information, advice or have an advocacy issue, you can call a member of the local Citizens Information team in Kerry on 0818 07 7860, they will be happy to assist and make an appointment if necessary. The offices are staffed from Monday to Friday from 10am to 4pm. Alternatively you can email on tralee@citinfo.ie or log on to www.citizensinformation.ie for further information.

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Is it a good time to sell your property?

By Ted Healy of DNG TED HEALY Recently published property outlooks are suggesting single digit growth in prices this year. The MyHome.ie quarterly report found the market had held up […]

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By Ted Healy of DNG TED HEALY

Recently published property outlooks are suggesting single digit growth in prices this year.

The MyHome.ie quarterly report found the market had held up better than evidence had suggested in 2022. The number of vendors cutting asking prices remained at low levels, while many house prices were being settled above asking prices.

However, the report warned that the resilience of the housing marking is set to be tested this year. It found annual asking price inflation slowed to six percent nationwide, meaning the asking price for the average home in Ireland is now €330,000.

There were 15,000 available properties for sale on MyHome.ie in the fourth quarter of the year – an improvement on the same time last year but still below pre-pandemic levels.

Average time to sale agreed was 2.7 months nationwide which the report said is indicative of a very tight housing market.

The report said it expects to see 28,400 house completions in 2022, exceeding its previous forecast of 26,500 finished units.

The author of the report, Conall MacCoille, Chief Economist at stockbrokers Davy, said it appeared the market had held up better than evidence had suggested.

“The number of vendors cutting their asking prices is still at low levels. Also, transactions in Q4 were still being settled above asking prices, indicative of a tight market,” he said.

Recent months had seen worrying trends in the homebuilding sector, with housing starts slowing, and the construction PMI survey pointing to the flow of new development drying up.

“We still expect housing completions will pick up to 28,400 in 2022 and 27,000 in 2023. However, the outlook for 2024 is far more uncertain. The Government’s ambitious plans to expedite planning processes are welcome although, as ever, the proof will be in the pudding,” he added.

Locally, and unsurprisingly, the lack of supply of new and second-hand properties remains the dominant issue. There has been very little new construction due largely to the rising cost of construction, labour, materials and utilities which in turn is putting pressure on the second hand market.

This market proved particularly strong in 2022 with active bidding experienced on the majority of house sales and a large proportion of guide prices being generally exceeded.

The detached family home end of the market is particularly strong with increased competition for a limited number of available well located family homes.

So, what lies ahead and is it a good time to sell your property?

The answer is a tight market with scarcity of supply being a factor. If selling now you will benefit greatly from a lack of supply of available homes (therefore less competition) provided your property is marketed correctly of course!

For anyone considering placing their property on the market, contact DNG Ted Healy 064 6639000 killarney@dng.ie for genuine honest advice on how to achieve the best possible price for your home.

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Tourism VAT rate should be “continued indefinitely”

A Kerry Fianna Fáil Councillor believes the current 9% tourism VAT rate should be continued indefinitely despite “the allegation that some hotels were not passing on the saving to its […]

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A Kerry Fianna Fáil Councillor believes the current 9% tourism VAT rate should be continued indefinitely despite “the allegation that some hotels were not passing on the saving to its customers”.

The reduced VAT rate of 9% was introduced by the Government in response to the challenges posed by COVID-19 to the hospitality sector.

“I believe a return to a 13.5% Tourism VAT rate would be counterproductive at this stage, to small and medium businesses that welcome visitors to our country and our county,” Councillor Michael Cahill said.

“Catered food is already charged at 13.5%, alcohol at 23% and accommodation presently at 9%. This sector is providing pretty decent returns to the Exchequer and should be supported. All parties in this debate, including the Government and accommodation providers, should review their position and ensure their actions do not contribute to ‘killing the Goose that laid the Golden Egg’.”

He explained that the tourism industry is “in a very volatile market”, as can be seen by the enormous challenges “posed by COVID-19 in recent years”.

“A grain of rice could tip the balance either way and great care must be taken not to damage it irreparably. We are all aware that the next six to 12 months will be extremely difficult for many businesses with the increase in the cost of oil and gas, etc,, and a return to the 13.5% VAT rate will, in my opinion, close many doors. If a minority are ‘price gouging’, then it should be possible to penalise them and continue to support the majority who offer value for money to our visitors.”

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