Deputies

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Telephone, electric allowance for older people

Dara Calleary (FF, Mayo) denounced, as a ‘sneaky bombshell’ the reduction of 63% in the contribution to the phone allowance for older people (Dail Eireann, Debates, 24th January 2013, 682-4).  This mean a reduction, for example, from €25.78 to €9.50.  Although younger people might have moved on to mobiles, older people still needed their landlines for personal security.  As for the electric allowance, it used to be based on unit useage, but was now a flat rate payment of €35 a quarter.  The introduction should have been staged, he argued, because of much higher electric bills at this time of year.    Replying for the government, the Minister of State at the Department of Jobs Enterprise and Innovation, John Perry,  told him that the focus of the government was to protect the basic rates of welfare.  405,000 people now received the electric and gas allowance, at a cost of €201m in 2012, while 397,000 customers received the phone allowance.  The reduction in the electricity/gas allowance saved €25m, while the change in the phone allowance saved €61m.  Ireland’s older people had the lowest risk of poverty compared to other groups, pointing to the adequacy of the state pension.  In cases of particular difficulty, an older person could apply to the community welfare officer.