The Household Benefits Package offers financial help to enable eligible consumers to meet and manage their household running costs. There are two allowances in the package (prior to 2014 there was also a telephone allowance but this has since been discontinued).
The allowances included in the package are:
- A free tv licence (worth €160).
- A €35 credit against your electricity OR gas bills (the allowance can only be counted against one energy supply). It works out to €1.15 per day and will appear on your utility bill as -€1.15068493.
So all together the household benefits package can save you the tidy sum of €580 a year, so if you think you might qualify it’s definitely worth your while having a look at the section on eligibility below, and you should also check out our article on the fuel allowance to see if you’re also entitled to it, as both allowances are compatible with each other and can be claimed at the same time.
To fill out the form you'll need the following details to hand:
- Your contact and address details.
- Your PPS number and the numbers of anyone else who lives with you.
- A copy of your GNIB (Garda National Immigration Bureau) card, where applicable.
- Your MPRN/GPRN numbers (these are your electricity or gas meter numbers).
- Your television licence number.
- Details of the financial institution (BIC and IBAN), or post office of your choosing.
To apply print the HB1 form for the household benefits package, fill it out and return it signed to the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.
There are six categories under which people who qualify can avail of Household Benefits (for permanent and legal residents only).
RestrictionsOnly one person in a household can qualify at any given moment.
- Anyone over the age of 70.
- If you are getting the Carer’s Allowance and living full time with the person you are caring for.
- If you are aged 66-70 and upon retirement receive a state pension, a widow’s/widower’s/surviving civil partner’s pension, a deserted wife’s benefit/allowance, a garda widow’s pension, or the equivalent of the above from another EU state or a country which Ireland has a bilateral social security agreement with.
- If you are aged 66-70 and satisfy a means test.
- If you are under 66 and receive a disability living allowance, invalidity pension, blind pension, incapacity supplement or workmen’s compensation with disablement pension (for at least 12 months), or the equivalent of the above from another EU state or a country Ireland has a bilateral social security agreement with.
- If you are looking after a person in receipt of a constant attendance allowance.
Means TestIf your weekly means are less than or equal to your weekly income, then you qualify for the means test. Your weekly means are based on the maximum rate of the contributory state pension (inclusive of extra allowance for age, dependants and living alone) and your weekly income is based on the maximum rate of the contributory state pension plus €100.
If you’re with any other supplier, the allowance will be deposited into your bank or post office account which you provide details for when you are applying for the allowance.
Cash Electricity Allowance
If you’re living in a flat or an apartment you may qualify for the cash electricity allowance, payable to your bank account or post office account directly. In order to qualify you’ll need to have an electricity slot meter at your address, or your landlord will need to be a registered consumer of electricity.
As with the electricity allowance, this can either be put into your account directly each month, or paid as a monthly credit against your Bord Gáis Energy or Electric Ireland gas bill.
Cash Gas Allowance
If you qualify for the cash gas allowance you will receive it in your account every month even though you may not be connected to a gas supply (for example if you have a tank, or use bottled gas cylinders).
You can qualify if you are the registered consumer of gas for an address or if your landlord is, and provides written confirmation that you are paying the gas bill.
If you change energy supplier and you are receiving the household benefits package, it’s important to let the department of welfare know as soon as possible, and to provide them with proof of your new supplier (e.g. with a bill dating from the time you changed supplier) in order to not miss out on any payments.
Make no mistake, you can still switch energy providers in order to get the best deal possible, and we recommend switching every 12 months in order to take advantage of the best offers available and avoid defaulting to the standard (and more expensive) tariff.
At the moment only customers with Bord Gáis Energy and Electric Ireland can have their allowance applied directly to their bill; claimants who switch to any other provider will need to contact the department of welfare as soon as possible to provide them with details of the account where they would like to receive the payment instead.
If you change address your allowance will not be automatically transferred to your new accommodation, you will need to reapply in order to continue receiving benefits. You'll again need to fill out the application form and post it to the Department of Welfare
TV Licence Allowance
If you qualify for the household benefits package and would like to apply for the free TV license, you can claim using the same application form which is used for the gas or electricity allowance (make sure to tick the TV licence box).
You will then be eligible for a free TV licence from the date of your next renewal and An Post will be contacted and informed of this by the Department of Welfare.
If your circumstances change and you are no longer entitled to the Household Benefits Package, you will lose your right to a free license and will need to start paying for one again at the next date of renewal.
Backdating the Allowance
As only one member of each household can receive the household benefits package, if the previous recipient leaves the household or passes away, but other house members qualify to receive the benefit, the qualifying person will need to reapply for the package within six months as this is the maximum amount of time the allowance can be backdated, meaning you may lose out if you wait any longer.
For example, if the allowance was in the name of your deceased spouse, and you are also entitled to receive it, then this is unfortunately another item you need to keep in mind during your time of bereavement. If you were to apply one year after the allowance ceased, you would only receive backdated payment on half the year.
For more in-depth information about rules, exceptions and general conditions, you can check out the Household Benefits Page on the department of welfare's website.
If, after reading through this article and checking out the department of welfare's website, you still have any doubts or would prefer to discuss the scheme with someone in person, you can visit any citizen’s information centre, Intreo centre or Social Welfare Branch Office. Alternatively, we have included on this webpage all the contact information you may need for the relevant Department of Welfare section.