1421. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the removal of a household benefits package for a person (details supplied) can be re-examined with a view to reinstating this payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 15407/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The household benefits package (HHB) comprises the electricity or gas allowance, and the free television licence. The package is generally available to people living in the State, aged 66 years or over who are in receipt of a social welfare type payment or who satisfy a means test. The package is also available to carers and people with disabilities under the age of 66 who are in receipt of certain welfare type payments. Widows and widowers aged from 60 to 65 whose late spouses had been in receipt of the household benefits package retain that entitlement.

Therefore anyone aged under 70 years of age must be in receipt of a qualifying payment from the Department or satisfy a means test in order to qualify for HHB. They must also satisfy the household composition test meaning they must live alone or only with certain excepted people, who are -

- A qualified adult (a spouse, civil partner or cohabitant is considered a qualified adult if a person is receiving an allowance for him/her with their payment, or would be receiving a payment for them but for the fact that they are in receipt of a payment in their own right)

- Dependent children 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 a State pension)

- A person who is providing the claimant or someone in their household with constant care and attention, if they are so incapacitated as to require constant care and attention for at least 12 months (medical certification may be required).

The records of the Department show that the son of the person concerned, who is currently employed, resides in the household. As such he is not considered an excepted person as outlined above.

Any decision to change the qualifying conditions for receipt of HHB would have to be considered in the context of overall budgetary negotiations.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.