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Burton calls for greater discount from ESB on Electricity Allowance

Social Protection Minister Joan Burton today reassured those who receive the Electricity or Gas Allowance from the Department of Social Protection that the increased cost of these allowances resulting from energy price increases which came into effect on Saturday, 1st October will be covered in full by her Department.

Minister Burton said:

The Electricity and Gas Allowances cover 1,800 units of electricity or an equivalent amount of gas for each person getting one of these allowances through the Household Benefits package. My Department will cover the cost of the price increases which came into effect from 1st October and maintain the value of these allowances at 1,800 units. In other words, the price increases will not have an impact on the Department of Social Protection customers who benefit from this support.

Some 396,000 pensioner and other households qualify for Electricity and Gas Allowances which help towards their heating, light and cooking costs throughout the year. 

The Minister continued:

I accept that the recent reduction in the Household Benefits package may be difficult for some people. I hope the fact that these new price increases will be covered by my  Department will give reassurance to those who are supported by the Household Benefits package. I would also urge those people to bear in mind that if there are exceptional needs in relation to energy costs, community welfare officers can provide additional specific exceptional needs payments. The most cost-effective means of protecting households from energy poverty is to reduce consumption of energy through improving the home’s thermal efficiency.  Sustainable Energy Ireland has administered the Warmer Homes programme for privately owned low-income households since 2001, benefitting 65,000 households, with a further 15,000 to receive upgrades this year. A similar programme is in place for local authority houses.

At a time when the ESB is experiencing an increase in bad debts elsewhere among its customers, it is disappointing that the ESB is not willing to offer a bigger discount to the Department in respect of its payment to them for those customers on the allowance arrangement given that these customers are less likely to incur bad debts. I will be seeking a discount of eight per cent from the ESB.

Read the full press release here.