Financial and Other Support Services
Difficulty paying fuel bills
If you are finding it hard to pay your fuel bills, contact your gas or electricity supplier straightaway. All suppliers offer different ways to pay. You should be able to agree a payment plan that you can afford with your supplier.
It is also worth remembering that your gas or electricity will not be turned off between November and March for non-payment of bills if you are:
- registered on the industry Special Services Register;
- aged 66 years or over;
- living alone or with another elderly person;
- living with a child under the age of 18.
To find out if you are eligible for the register, please contact your electricity or gas supplier directly.
Your electricity supply will not be cut off if you are on the register or you rely on kidney dialysis or oxygen machines at home.
If there is an unexpected power failure in the network, your electricity supplier will make restoring your electricity a priority.
Prepayment and Pay-as-you-go meters
If you are having difficulty managing your energy bills, your electricity or natural gas supplier may be able to install a prepayment or pay-as-you-go meter in your home. These meters let you pay for small amounts of energy before using it. You simply buy credit, from a selection of newsagents nationwide, and put it into the meter, a bit like the way you might buy credit for a pay-as-you-go mobile phone. This system can help you to manage your energy budget, avoid a larger energy bill every two months and avoid building up debt.
However, while a prepayment meter can help you to budget for your electricity or gas needs, you should check whether it is suitable for you. If you are eligible for the Special Services Register (which protects from disconnection), it is better to stay on that register and pay your bill in the normal way.
For more information and to see if a prepayment meter will suit your needs, contact your energy supplier directly.
Household Benefits Package
This scheme is run by the Department of Social Protection and helps households with the costs of electricity, natural gas or bottled gas bills.
The electricity allowance covers the standing charge, a certain number of electricity units and value added tax (VAT). Depending on your supplier, this may be paid directly to you as a cash allowance or taken directly off your electricity bill. The natural gas allowance covers a range of charges and gas energy units depending on your particular supplier.
You can get a bottled gas allowance if your home is not connected to an electricity or natural gas supply.
The Household Benefits Package also pays your television licence and part of the cost of your telephone bills.
For more information on the Household Benefits Package or to see if you are eligible call the Department of Social Protection on LoCall 1890 500 000 or visit www.welfare.ie.
If you are on a long-term social welfare payment, you may be eligible for the Fuel Allowance under the National Fuel Scheme. This is a payment to help with the cost of heating your home. The Department of Social Protection operates this scheme. The Fuel Allowance is a means tested scheme and the eligibility criteria for the Fuel Allowance are different from the eligibility criteria for the Household Benefits Package.
A household is only eligible for one Fuel Allowance.
To find out more about the Fuel Allowance and to see if you are eligible, contact the section which pays your Social Welfare Payment or visit www.welfare.ie.
Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS)
MABS is a free and confidential service for people who have problems managing their money. There are MABS offices across Ireland with professional money advisers who can:
- check your income to make sure you are getting all your entitlements such as social welfare payments;
- help you to make a budget and decide on the best way to make your payments; and
- contact the people or businesses you owe money to and work out a payment plan for you.
You can contact MABS through its:
- National phone helpline: (076) 107 2000
- website: www.mabs.ie
- local offices: see your local phone directory for details.
Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVP)
SVP volunteers work with people in need and offer confidential advice, guidance and support. If you are struggling with household bills and energy costs, SVP can advise and help with your gas, electricity, oil and solid fuel bills.
For more information, visit www.svp.ie or call (01) 855 0022 if you live in Dublin, or (01) 838 6990 if you live outside Dublin.
BillPay is a free service from An Post that lets you pay many of your household bills in your local post office or in shops which display the Post Point sign. You can also pay online at www.billpay.ie. To find out more about BillPay, ask at your local post office.
Household Budget lets people who receive certain social welfare payments to spread the cost of their household bills over a certain period of time. You pay a regular amount towards the bills through a deduction from your social welfare payment. For more information about this service, ask at your local post office.