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Household Benefits Package

Information

If you satisfy a number of conditions, you may qualify for the Household Benefits Package. This is a package of allowances which help you with the costs of running your household. You must be living in the State. Only one person in a household can qualify for the package at any time. If you are renting your home, your landlord must provide written confirmation that you are a tenant (including the MPRN or GPRN of the address you are living at) and confirm that you are paying your own energy bills.

There are various commercial websites that allow you to compare energy prices. The Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) accredits cost comparison websites if they meet certain standards. You can check accredited websites on energycustomers.ie.

Water charges

Water charges are being introduced from the last quarter of 2014. From January 2015 the Household Benefits Package will include a new Water Support payment. This will be €100 each year (made up of four equal payments of €25). The Water Support payment will be paid to everyone who qualifies for the Household Benefits Package (including people who are not customers of Irish Water and have their own water supply or are members of a group scheme). If you are currently getting the Household Benefit Package and get your allowance as a credit on your bill the Department of Social Protection does not hold payment details for you. In September 2014 the DSP is contacting such customers to ask them to complete a form with their bank account information. The Water Support payment can also be paid in the post office.

You can also read FAQs about the new Water Support payment.

What should I do if I have difficulties paying my energy bills?

The Department of Social Protection has published information on what to do if you are in financial difficulty with your energy bills.

Allowances

There are 2 allowances in the Household Benefits Package:

Allowance 1

  • The Electricity Allowance or
  • Natural Gas Allowance or
  • Cash Electricity Allowance or
  • Cash Gas Allowance

Allowance 2

  • The Free Television Licence

The Telephone Allowance was discontinued from 1 January 2014. The value of the allowance was €9.50 per month per household. Read FAQs about this change on welfare.ie.

Allowance 1: Electricity/Gas Allowance

If you have an electricity or natural gas supply, you must choose either the Electricity Allowance or the Natural Gas Allowance.

Electricity Allowance

The Electricity Allowance is a cash credit paid to you each month. This change will be automatically applied to your bill if you are an Electric Ireland customer. This will be shown as €35 per month credit on your Electric Ireland bill.

Electric Ireland customers

Following approval of your application for an Electricity Allowance, the Department notifies Electric Ireland, who will apply the allowance, including any backdated credit, on your next or subsequent bill. The allowance is paid directly to Electric Ireland. You must pay in the normal way for any electricity you use above the allowance.

Other electricity providers

If your electricity provider is not Electric Ireland, your Electricity Allowance is paid directly to you to use towards your electricity bill. In this case, the allowance can be paid into your bank account or at your local post office.

If you are already getting an Electricity Allowance and change your electricity provider, you do not need to reapply. Your Electricity Allowance will continue to be paid – either as a credit to your bill with Electric Ireland or as a cash payment with other suppliers.

Cash Electricity Allowance

You may qualify for a monthly Cash Electricity Allowance of €35.00 if you are living in self-contained accommodation (a flat or apartment), and:

  • You have your own electricity slot meter

    or

  • There are a number of separate electricity meters operating from one meter from an electricity provider and the registered consumer of electricity is a landlord

    or

  • There are no separate meters, but the registered consumer of electricity at your address is a landlord.

Your landlord must provide written confirmation (including the MPRN or GPRN of the address you are living at) that you are a tenant and are paying your own energy bills.

The Cash Electricity Allowance is paid on the first Tuesday of each month to an account in a financial institution, for example, a bank or, if you have a social welfare services card, through your local post office. (Note that if you are being paid through a post office, using a social welfare services card, you have 56 days to collect your payment.)

Natural Gas Allowance

Depending on your supplier the Natural Gas Allowance of €35.00 can be paid as a cash credit on your gas bill or on the first Tuesday of each month to an account in a financial institution or a post office.

The Allowance does not cover the cost of installing a natural gas supply to your home.

If the Allowance is paid as a credit on your gas bill, the Department notifies your gas provider, who will apply the allowance, including any backdated credit, on your second gas bill after that date.

You must satisfy some conditions to qualify for the Natural Gas Allowance. You must show proof that you are the registered consumer on the energy bills (MPRN/GPRN). If you are renting and the utility bill is in the landlord’s name, your landlord must provide written confirmation (including the MPRN or GPRN of the address you are living at) that you are a tenant and are paying your own energy bills.

Cash Gas Allowance

If your home is not connected to an electricity or natural gas supply but you satisfy the conditions of the scheme, you can get the Cash Gas Allowance of €35.

You can also claim a Cash Gas Allowance if you use gas which is not delivered through the national grid. For example, in some areas a gas tank may provide gas to a number of individually-metered households. The Cash Gas Allowance is paid on the first Tuesday of each month to an account in a financial institution or a post office.

Carry forward of gas or electricity units

Your monthly allowance of €35 can be carried forward without restriction and can be drawn down at any stage, including if you wish to switch to a different energy provider.

Allowance 2: Free Television Licence

Once you qualify for the Household Benefits Package, you become eligible for a Free Television Licence from the next renewal date of your television licence.

When you qualify for the Household Benefits Package, the Department issues you with a TV licence, and also notifies An Post of your entitlement to a free licence for as long as you are entitled to the Household Benefits Package.

The Telephone Allowance was discontinued from 1 January 2014.

Rules

You may qualify for the Household Benefits Package if you are aged 70 or over or you are getting full-time Carer's Allowance (if you are living with the person you are caring for).

You may also qualify for the Household Benefits Package if you meet one of the following conditions and live alone or only with excepted people (see 'Excepted people' below):

1. You are between 66 and 70 and are getting:

2. You are under 66 and are getting:

  • Disability Allowance
  • Invalidity Pension
  • Blind Pension
  • Incapacity Supplement or Workmen's Compensation with Disablement Pension (for at least 12 months)
  • An equivalent Social Security Pension/Benefit from a country covered by EU Regulations, or from a country with which Ireland has a Bilateral Social Security Agreement

3. You are caring for a person who is getting Prescribed Relative's Allowance or Constant Attendance Allowance

4. You are aged between 66 and 70 and satisfy a means test (see 'Means test' below).

Excepted people are:

  • A qualified adult (your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant is considered a qualified adult if you are receiving an allowance for him/her with your payment or if he or she earns less than €310, including income from a social welfare payment)
  • Dependent child(ren) under the age of 18 or under the age of 22 if in full-time education (a certificate from the school/college must be supplied for those aged 18 or over)
  • A person who is so incapacitated as to require constant care and attention for at least 12 months (medical certification may be required)
  • A person(s) who would qualify for the allowance in his/her own right (for example, a person getting an State Pension)
  • A person who is providing you or someone in your household with constant care and attention if you or that person is so incapacitated as to require constant care and attention for at least 12 months (medical certification may be required). People in employment for more than 15 hours per week or people getting Jobseeker's Benefit/Jobseeker's Allowance cannot be accepted as providing constant full-time care and attention.

Other conditions for people getting the Household Benefits Package

  • You must be permanently living (that is on an all-year-round basis) at the address at which you wish the allowances to be applied. The allowances do not apply if you live in a nursing/retirement home where the accommodation is not fully self-contained.
  • No other person in your household can be receiving the allowances.
  • You must be the registered consumer of electricity/gas if you are applying for an Electricity/Natural Gas Allowance.

Illness and hospital stays

You are considered to be living at your permanent address while you are having medical treatment in hospital provided your hospital stay is less than 13 consecutive weeks.

Concession for widowed people or surviving civil partners aged between 60 and 65

If you are widowed or a surviving civil partner aged between 60 and 65 and your late spouse or civil partner was getting any Household Benefit allowance from the Department of Social Protection and, before his or her death, you were permanently living together, you may now qualify for the Household Benefits Package. If you were under 60 when your spouse or civil partner died this concession applies when you turn 60.

You must be getting:

  • State Pension (Transition)
  • Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's (Contributory) or (Non-Contributory) Pension
  • One-Parent Family Payment (Widows/Widowers)
  • Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Pension under the Occupational Injuries Benefits Scheme
  • An equivalent Social Security Pension/Benefit from a country covered by EU Regulations or from a country with which Ireland has a Bilateral Social Security Agreement
  • An ordinary Garda Widow's Pension from the Department of Justice and Equality .

You may have to show documentary evidence proving that your late spouse or civil partner was receiving an allowance under the Household Benefits Scheme.

Concession for people transferring from Invalidity Pension, Disability Allowance or Blind Pension

If you are receiving Invalidity Pension, Disability Allowance or Blind Pension and you are receiving any Household Benefit allowance you may keep it if you transfer to another primary payment from the Department of Social Protection. This does not apply if you transfer to Jobseeker's Benefit/Allowance, Illness Benefit, One-Parent Family Payment and Carer's Benefit or if your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant claims for you as a qualified adult on their payment.

Note that in general if you transfer from any primary payment to become a qualified adult on your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant’s payment you lose your entitlement to the Household Benefits Package (it will be paid to your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant if they qualify).

The means test

If you are aged between 66 and 70 and are not receiving a qualifying payment, you must satisfy a means test.

The means test involves calculating your appropriate weekly means limit. This limit is based on the current maximum rate of State Pension (Contributory) including increases for age, living alone, and adult/child dependants.

Your weekly income limit consists of the maximum rate of State Pension (Contributory) plus €100. Your weekly income limit is then compared to your weekly means as assessed in a means test.

If your weekly means are less than or equal to your weekly income limit, you satisfy the means test and qualify for the Household Benefits Package.

If you are applying for the Household Benefits Package on the basis of the means test, a separate means test questionnaire will be posted to you for completion.

If you change address

If you change address and you still satisfy the conditions for the Household Benefits Package, you must re-apply for the package.

Rates

Household Benefit Package rates in 2014
Allowance
Elecricity Allowance €35 monthly
Cash Electricity Allowance €35 monthly
Natural Gas Allowance €35 monthly
Cash Gas Allowance €35 monthly
Television Licence Once you qualify for the Household Benefits Package, you become eligible for a Free Television Licence from the next renewal date of your television licence.

Where to apply

To apply, fill in form HB1 (pdf). You can get more information about the Household Benefits Package in SW107 .

Return your completed application form to the Household Benefits Package section:

Department of Social Protection

Social Welfare Services
College Road
Sligo
Ireland

Opening Hours:This office does not offer a service to personal callers. All queries must be made using the online enquiry form, by telephone or in writing.
Tel:(071) 915 7100
Locall:1890 500 000
Homepage: http://www.welfare.ie/

You can email the Household Benefits Package section using the secure enquiry form. If you wish to talk to someone face-to-face about your entitlements, you can visit your local Citizens Information centre, social welfare local office or Intreo centre.

Page updated: 3 September 2014

Language

Gaeilge

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Contact Us

If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.