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Vulnerable and elderly to get cash boost in Budget

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Heather Humphreys secured a €3 fuel allowance increase

Heather Humphreys secured a €3 fuel allowance increase

Colin Keegan

Heather Humphreys secured a €3 fuel allowance increase

A major cash boost for older and vulnerable people who were asked to cocoon due to the pandemic will be announced in next week's Budget.

It can be revealed around 200,000 people who receive the living alone allowance will see their weekly payment increase by €5 a week.

The allowance, which is paid to older people, widows, widowers and those with disabilities, will increase from €14 to €19 a week. The weekly allowance is paid on top of other benefits such as the State pension and disability payments.

It has also emerged the fuel allowance will increase by €3.50 a week.

A senior Government source said: "We want our Budget to recognise the difficulties people have gone through, particularly those who live at home on their own and have been unable to see their loved ones for many months."

The living alone allowance is paid each week to 160,000 pensioners, widows and widowers every week. Another 40,000 people with disabilities are in receipt of the payment.

Supports

Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys, Minister of State Joe O'Brien and Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath reached agreement on the increase in supports for people who are living alone during the pandemic.

Ms Humphreys has secured a €3 a week increase in the fuel allowance.

It is understood the €24.50 weekly rate will now increase by another €3.50 to €28 when the Budget is announced next week.

The move will be a huge boost to people who are facing higher home heating costs due to increased carbon taxes the Green Party has insisted on as part of the Programme for Government.

Carbon taxes will increase by €7.50 to €33.50 a tonne. This will add €1.28 to the cost of a 60-litre tank of petrol or €1.47 to the same amount of diesel. A 12.5kg bale of peat will increase 20c and there will be a €1.80 increase for a 40kg bag of coal.