Household Benefits Package

Introduction

The Household Benefits Package (HBP) helps with the cost of the TV licence and your electricity or gas bill. Only one person in a household can get the Package.

You can get the Household Benefits Package if you are aged 70 or over. You do not need to be getting a State pension and the package is not means tested.

In certain circumstances, people under 70 can get the HBP – see ‘Rules’ below.

You can also check gas and electricity prices and compare suppliers.

Keeping well and warm in winter

The cold weather can be difficult when you are older or have a disability or a long-term illness. The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland provide information and advice about the supports that can help you to keep well and warm during the winter (pdf).

Rules

To get the Household Benefits Package, you must:

  • Be legally and permanently living in the State (full-time, all year round).
  • Be the only person in your household getting the HBP.
  • Have the electricity or gas bill in your name (if you are applying for an Electricity or Gas Allowance).
  • Be aged 70 or over. If you are under 70, you must also meet the additional rules for ‘people aged under 70’ set out below.

People aged under 70

If you are aged under 70, you can now live with other adults (who are not your spouse, cohabitant or civil partner) and still qualify for the Household Benefits Package.

You can get the HBP, if you are living with your spouse, cohabitant or civil partner and

  • You are getting an increase in your qualifying social welfare payment for them (see list of qualifying social welfare payments below) or
  • They are getting their own qualifying social welfare payment listed below or
  • They are getting a social welfare benefit payment not listed below and they satisfy a means test.

You must also meet one of the following 4 conditions:

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

2. You are aged between 66 and 70 and not getting one of the payments above, but you satisfy a means test - see ‘Means test' below.

3. You are under 66 and are getting:

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

4. You are caring for and living with a person who is getting Constant Attendance Allowance.

Carers

You can get the Household Benefits Package, if you are getting Carer's Allowance (full or half-rate payment), but you must be living with the person you are caring for.

Widowed people or surviving civil partners

You can qualify for the Household Benefits Package, if you are widowed or a surviving civil partner aged between 60 and 65 and your late spouse or civil partner was getting the Household Benefit Package before his or her death. To qualify you must have lived together when the Household Benefit Package was first awarded and you must be getting one of the following payments:

  • 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 or 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

If you were under 60 when your spouse or civil partner died, you can get the Household Benefits Package when you turn 60 as long as you meet these conditions.

The means test

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

The amount of means that you are allowed is the same as the current maximum rate of State Pension (Contributory) including any increases that you might get for your age, living alone and dependants, plus €100

Your weekly means are assessed in a means test.

If your weekly means are less than or equal to the amount of means that you are allowed, then 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 form will be sent to you to fill in.

Hospital stays

You can stay in hospital for up to 13 consecutive weeks and continue to get the Household Benefits Package.

Change of circumstances

You must notify the Department if your circumstances change. Fo example:

  • You change address
  • You change energy provider
  • You move into residential care

If you change address you must re-apply for the Household Benefits Package, even if you still meet all the conditions.

What is covered by the Household Benefits Package?

There are 2 allowances in the Household Benefits Package:

Allowance 1

  • Electricity Allowance or
  • Natural Gas Allowance

Allowance 2

  • Free Television Licence

Allowance 1: Electricity or Gas Allowance

If you have an electricity and natural gas supply, you must choose between the Electricity Allowance and Gas Allowance. You can choose only one.

The Allowance is paid either to your bank account or post office on the first Tuesday of each month. (If you are collecting your Allowance from the post office using your Public Services Card, you have 90 days to collect your payment.)

If your energy supplier is Electric Ireland for electricity or Bord Gáis or Flo Gas for gas, the Allowance can be paid directly to your energy supplier as a credit against your bill each month. The DSP will contact Electric Ireland or Bord Gáis or Flo Gas who will then apply the allowance, including any backdated credit, onto your next bill. You pay for any electricity or gas you use above the allowance in the normal way.

If you change your energy supplier, you must inform the DSP. You must provide proof of your new energy supplier (for example, a gas or electricity bill) from the date you changed over.

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

If the electricity or gas bill is in your landlord’s name

The Allowance can be paid, if the electricity or gas bill is in your landlord’s name. However, you must be living in self-contained accommodation and your landlord will need to confirm in writing, that you are a tenant and paying your own energy bills.

If you don’t use up your gas or electricity allowance

If you don’t use all of your monthly Allowance, you carry it forward. You can carry it forward to your next bill or, if you switch, to a different energy provider. If you switch provider, you will have to contact your previous provider for a refund.

Allowance 2: Free Television Licence

Once you qualify for the Household Benefits Package, you can get a Free Television Licence from your next renewal date. To get your Free TV Licence, you must select the Television Licence option on the HBP form when you apply.

You will get a free TV licence for as long as you get the Household Benefits Package.

You can find out more about the Household Benefits Package.

Rates

Household Benefits Package rates in 2020
Allowance
Electricity Allowance €35 monthly (€1.15 per day)
Gas Allowance €35 monthly (€1.15 per day)
Television Licence Free from your next renewal date

Where to apply

You can apply online for the Household Benefits Package using MyWelfare.ie, if you have a verified MyGovID account.

If you are unable to apply online, you can fill in the Household Benefit Package application form (pdf) and return it to the Household Benefits Package section:

Department of Social Protection

Household Benefits Package
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 (Note: the rates charged for using 1890 (Lo-call) numbers may vary)

If you wish to talk to someone face-to-face about your entitlements, you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre, Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office.

Page edited: 21 July 2020