The Department of Social Protection announced that the criteria for applying for the Fuel Allowance scheme expand from January 2023 amid rising cost of living, meaning over 80,000 people now qualify for the scheme for the first time.

The scheme is worth just under €1,000 per year in weekly payments of 33.

New criteria for over-70s has also been introduced:

· - A single person over the age of 70 can have an income of €500 per week and a couple can have an income of €1,000 per week

· - People over 70 will no longer need to be in receipt of a qualifying social welfare payment to be eligible for Fuel Allowance

· - In the case of a couple where one person is over 70 and one is under 70, they will be assessed under the Over-70s Means Test criteria

· - The first €50,000 in savings and investments will now be completely disregarded in the means test for people aged over 70

For those who do not fall into the above category, you must be living in Ireland and be on one of these payments.

You must also be either living alone or with:

· - A dependent spouse, civil partner or cohabitant and/or dependent children

· - A person who is getting Carer's Allowance or Carer's Benefit and is caring for you or for your dependent spouse, partner or cohabitant on a full-time basis

· - A person getting short-term Jobseeker's Allowance or basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance

· - Other people who are getting the qualifying payments and who would also be eligible for a Fuel Allowance in their own right