Household Benefits Package

What is the Household Benefits Package?

The Household Benefits Package (HBP) helps with the cost of your electricity or gas bill and the TV licence. 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.

People under 70 can also get the HBP, but additional rules apply – see ‘How to qualify for the Household Benefits Package’ below.

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).

You can use comparison websites to check gas and electricity prices.

How to qualify for the Household Benefits Package

To get the Household Benefits Package, you must:

  • Be living in Ireland (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
  • Be aged under 70 and meet the additional rules for ‘People aged under 70’ set out below.

People aged under 70

If you aged under 70 and you are living with your spouse, cohabitant or civil partner, you can get the HBP if you are getting a qualifying social welfare payment 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 payment not listed below and they satisfy a means test.

You can live with other adults (who are not your spouse, cohabitant or civil partner) and get the HBP.

Qualifying social welfare payments for people under 70

You are between 66 and 70:

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

You are under 66:

  • Disability Allowance
  • Invalidity Pension
  • Blind Pension
  • Incapacity Supplement (for at least 12 months) with Disablement Pension (for at least 12 months)
  • If you are caring for and living with a person who is getting Constant Attendance Allowance.
  • Carer's Allowance (full or half-rate payment), but you must be living with the person you are caring for.
  • 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

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 pass a means test. In a means test, the Department of Social Protection (DSP) examines all your sources of income. Your weekly income must be below a certain amount to pass the means test.

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

The main items included in the means test are:

If you are applying for the Household Benefits Package and you need to pass a 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 Pack

Change of circumstances

You must notify the Department if your circumstances change. For 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 of €35 monthly (€1.15 per day)
or
  • Natural Gas Allowance of €35 monthly (€1.15 per day)

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 Department of Social Protection (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 to your next bill. You can carry it forward if you switch, to a different energy provider, but 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 (TV) Licence from your next TV Licence 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.

How to apply for the Household Benefits Package

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

If you cannot 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 or 0818 200 400

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: 4 October 2021