Social protection: The system put in place for Irish families struggling to pay household bills

There has been much debate online in recent weeks as the government plans new ways to help low and middle income families cope with the rising cost of living in Ireland.

Everything from home energy to gasoline has seen its price rise, and with the impending carbon tax hike coming in May, many may struggle to pay their way.

As the government introduces new plans to help those in need, there is already a program that can help welfare recipients with these high costs.

The household budget scheme is in place to allow some people to spread the cost of some household bills over the year.

Social protection: The system put in place for Irish families struggling to pay household bills

The program is operated by An Post and to qualify you must receive a specified social security payment and your payment must be paid by your local post office.

The household budget scheme is free and a fixed amount is deducted from your social allowance each week to help you pay certain bills.

To be eligible for the household budget scheme, you must receive one of the following social benefits:

  • Back-to-work company allowance
  • Disability allowance
  • blind pension
  • Care allowance
  • Carer’s allowance
  • Help on the farm
  • Disability pension
  • Jobseeker’s allowance
  • Jobseeker’s allowance (and transitional jobseeker’s allowance)
  • State pension (contributory)
  • State pension (non-contributory)
  • Single-parent family allowance
  • Early retirement allowance
  • Widow’s, widower’s or surviving partner’s pension (contributory)
  • Widow’s, widower’s or surviving civil partner’s pension (non-contributory)
  • Back to Study allowance
  • Additional social allowance (basic payment)

Currently, you can pay the following service providers under the program:

  • Municipal contributions to rent and housing assistance (HAP) (for new applications, from 1 January 2014, you can no longer withdraw from the system without the agreement of your housing organization)
  • BSE
  • Bord Gais
  • Eir
  • Airtricity
  • Postmobile (prepaid mobile phone services)

You can choose to cover the full amount of the bill, however you cannot have more than 25% of your total weekly social allowance deducted under this scheme.

A minimum amount must be deducted each week for each bill to be paid under the household budget scheme.

To open an account, you must complete a Household Budget Deduction Instruction Form for each bill for which you wish to make a weekly payment.

Send your completed form marked “Freepost” to An Post, GPO, Dublin 1, Ireland, or collect a form from your local post office.

It can take around 28 days to process an application and have deductions made from your social allowance.

About Sharon Joseph

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