Know your rights: Fuel Allowance

I’m getting a State pension. Can I get help with my heating costs?

You may qualify for a Fuel Allowance. This is paid to people on long-term social welfare payments who are unable to pay for their own heating needs. If you are getting a State pension you may qualify for the allowance as long as you live alone or only with:

  • A dependent spouse, civil partner or cohabitant and/or dependent children
  • Other people getting one of the qualifying payments who would also be eligible for a Fuel Allowance in their own right
  • 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 COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP), short-term Jobseeker’s Allowance or basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance

You also need to satisfy a means test. A means test examines your income to establish your means. If you are on a State Pension (Non-Contributory) you automatically satisfy the means test. If you are getting the State Pension (Contributory) you satisfy the means test if you have means of €100 or less per week.

If two or more people living in the same household qualify for the allowance, only one allowance is paid. If your heating needs are met in other ways (for example, if you live in local authority housing where heating is provided) you do not qualify for Fuel Allowance. The Fuel Allowance season usually runs from October to April each year for 28 weeks. You can choose to get the allowance paid weekly, €24.50 per week or in 2 lump sums of €343 – one paid at the start of the season and the second, in January.

If you think you are eligible, you should apply immediately. The allowance is not backdated. You can get an application form for Fuel Allowance (NFS1) from your post office or Intreo centre.   You can read more about the Fuel Allowance on the citizensinformation.ie website.


During the COVID-19 pandemic, you can find comprehensive integrated information online at citizensinformation.ie/covid19/ and you can get daily updates on what’s changed on Twitter at @citizensinfo. You can also get information and advice from:

  • The Citizens Information Phone Service: Call 0761 07 4000, Monday to Friday, 9am – 8pm
  • Our national call back service: Visit citizensinformation.ie/callback to request a phone call from an information officer

A limited number of appointments are being made in Citizens Information Centres offices where social distancing can be facilitated. You can continue to contact your local centre by email or phone using the details in theFind a Centre page on citizensinformation.ie.

Know your rights: COVID-19 and school attendance

When should I keep my child home from school during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Keeping schools open during the COVID-19 emergency is a Government priority.

However, many parents have questions about when to keep primary school children at home during the pandemic.

Your child should not go to school if they have:

  • Symptoms of COVID-19 – common symptoms are a high temperature,  a cough, shortness of breath, loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
  • Been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus
  • Been living with someone who is unwell and may have coronavirus
  • An existing breathing condition that has recently got worse

If any of these apply, you should:

  • Keep your child at home and completely avoid contact with other people, as much as possible. This means they must self-isolate. They should only leave your home to see your GP or have a COVID-19 test.
  • Phone your GP. They will advise you if your child needs a test.
  • Treat your child at home for their symptoms.

No one in your household should go to school, childcare or work until your child gets a diagnosis from their GP or a COVID-19 test result. This means they should restrict their movements.

If your child has other symptoms

You should keep your child at home for at least 48 hours, if they have:

  • Headaches or a sore throat – usually, after 48 hours you can send your child back to school as long as their symptoms do not get worse, they do not develop new symptoms and they do not need paracetamol or ibuprofen during the period.
  • Diarrhoea – they should stay at home until they have had no diarrhoea for 48 hours.

You and your family can continue your normal routine.  You do not need to restrict your movements as long as you are not ill.

If your child has travelled abroad

Your child needs to stay at home and not go to school if they have returned from a country that is not on the green list. They need to restrict their movements for 14 days. They do not need to see a GP unless they develop coronavirus symptoms. You should always check travel advice on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website.


During the COVID-19 pandemic, you can find comprehensive integrated information online at citizensinformation.ie/covid19/ and you can get daily updates on what’s changed on Twitter at @citizensinfo. You can also get information and advice from:

  • The Citizens Information Phone Service: Call 0761 07 4000, Monday to Friday, 9am – 8pm
  • Our national call back service: Visit citizensinformation.ie/callback to request a phone call from an information officer

A limited number of appointments are being made in Citizens Information Centres offices where social distancing can be facilitated. You can continue to contact your local centre by email or phone using the details in the Find a Centre page on citizensinformation.ie.

Citizens Information and COVID-19

During the COVID-19 pandemic, public service information is rapidly changing. The Citizens Information website collates information from across the full range of government sources and our team works hard to keep the information accurate and focused on citizens’ needs. There may sometimes be a time lag between information being published by another government department or agency and our content being updated. This is because we want to make sure we check the information fully and integrate it on our website.

If you want to give us feedback on information published on this site or if you think anything is missing you can email us directly at ciofeedback@ciboard.ie

You can also contact us via our social media channels  – on Twitter at @citizensinfo and on Facebook at @citizensinformation

Note that we cannot respond to queries through our feedback channel. If you need information and advice you can contact:

  • The Citizens Information Phone Service: Call 0761 07 4000, Monday to Friday, 9am – 8pm
  • Our national call back service: Visit citizensinformation.ie/callback to request a phone call from an information officer

A limited number of appointments are being made in Citizens Information Centre offices where social distancing can be facilitated. You can continue to contact your local centre by email or phone using the details in our Find a Centre page.

Dublin has moved to Level 3

From midnight on Friday, 18 September 2020, the entire county of Dublin will be placed on Level 3 of the Framework for Restrictive Measures.

This is in response to the deteriorating situation with the virus in Dublin over the past number of weeks.

The rest of the country remains at Level 2 of the Framework.

There is an exception for weddings and funerals over the weekend. Weddings and funerals can have up to 50 people in attendance until 21 September 2020 in Dublin. From 21 September only 25 people can attend weddings and funerals in Dublin.

Dublin will remain at Level 3 for 3 weeks, until Friday 9 October, when the situation will be reviewed. You can read information about the measures that apply in Dublin on gov.ie.

The new Framework for living with COVID-19

The Government has published Resilience & Recovery 2020-2021: Plan for Living with Covid-19, which aims to help people go about their daily lives as much as possible, while managing the behaviour of the virus. The Framework consists of 5 levels. Most of Ireland is now in level 2. Dublin is in level 2 with some additional modifications.

You can get details of each level of the plan on gov.ie:


We are updating information on citizensinformation.ie about the plan and how it will affect you. You can read the full Plan on gov.ie (pdf).

You can also get information on supports for businesses.

Know your rights: Appealing Leaving Certificate calculated grades

I’m not happy with my results.  Can I appeal my Leaving Certificate calculated grades?

Due to the postponement of the Leaving Certificate 2020 written exam, students were offered a State Certificate of Calculated Grades in their subjects for the: 

  • Leaving Certificate
  • Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA) – for your outstanding assessments, including your subjects, vocational specialisms and tasks due to be completed in the current LCA session.
  • Leaving Certificate Vocational programme (LCVP) – Link Modules

Your calculated grade in a subject is arrived at by using:

  • Your estimated percentage mark in that subject from your school
  • Your position in your class/subject group as ranked by your school
  • A standardisation process is then applied to ensure consistency across all schools

From 14 September at 9am, you can log in to the Calculated Grades Student Portal to appeal your calculated grade results. There is no fee to appeal your Calculated Grade result. 

However, if you want to appeal your grade, you must submit your appeal by 5pm, 16 September 2020.

The Calculated Grades Executive Office will follow three stages when considering your appeal:

  • Stage 1: They will check that the information was recorded and transferred correctly by the school
  • Stage 2: They will review that the data was correctly received and processed in the national standardisation process
  • Stage 3: If you are unhappy with the outcome of the appeals process you can ask for a review by Independent Appeal Scrutineers

The estimated percentage mark provided by your teacher cannot be reviewed.

If you have exhausted the appeals process and you remain unhappy you have recourse to the Office of the Ombudsman or, if you are under 18 years of age, to the Ombudsman for Children’s Office.

A helpline for students is available from 7 September 2020 until after the CAO first round offers on 11 September 2020. You can call 1800 265 165

The Calculated Grades Executive Office helpline is also available from 7 September 2020 to 16 September 2020. You can call 1800 111 135 or 1800 111 136 (from 9am to 4pm). Outside of these hours, you can email lcsupport2020@education.gov.ie

If you are unhappy with the outcome of the calculated grades awarded or with the result of your appeal, you can choose to sit the written Leaving Certificate exam in the subject(s) in November 2020. Detailed information about the written exams will be published on the SEC website.

If you achieve a higher grade in the written exam than in your calculated grade, your results for that subject will be amended. If the higher grade means you would have been entitled to a higher offer of a CAO course, you will be facilitated in taking up that place as soon as practicable. However, it is not possible to guarantee that you will be able to take up a college course this year.

You can find out more about how appeals will work with the timing of college courses.

You can get detailed information in the Department’s guide Leaving Certificate 2020: Your questions answered and in Leaving Certificate 2020 and calculated grades.


During the COVID-19 pandemic, you can find comprehensive integrated information online at citizensinformation.ie/covid19/ and you can get daily updates on what’s changed on Twitter at @citizensinfo. You can also get information and advice from:

  • The Citizens Information Phone Service: Call 0761 07 4000, Monday to Friday, 9am – 8pm
  • Our national call back service: Visit citizensinformation.ie/callback to request a phone call from an information officer

A limited number of appointments are being made in Citizens Information Centres offices where social distancing can be facilitated. You can continue to contact your local centre by email or phone using the details in Find a Centre page on citizensinformation.ie.

Know your rights: Stay and Spend Tax Incentive

Question: I have booked a hotel break in Kerry in October. What is the new Stay and Spend scheme and how does it work?

The new Stay and Spend scheme allows you to claim tax back on accommodation, food and non-alcoholic drink (known as qualifying expenditure) bought between 1 October 2020 and 30 April 2021.

You can check if a business is participating in the scheme by looking out for the ‘Stay & Spend Tax Credit’ logo or you can check Revenue’s list of qualifying service providers.

Under the terms of the incentive:

  • You must spend a minimum of €25 in a single transaction on qualifying expenditure and submit the receipt to Revenue
  • You can submit receipts up to a total of €625, or €1,250 for a jointly-assessed married couple
  • Revenue will provide an income tax credit of up to €125 per person, or up to €250 for a jointly-assessed married couple

 You can claim expenses on:

  • Fáilte Ireland registered accommodation, including hotels, guest houses, B&Bs, self-catering, caravan parks, camping parks and holiday camps.
  • Food and non-alcoholic drink – served in a café, restaurant, hotel or pub.

You cannot claim expenses on takeaway food, alcoholic drinks, drinks (either alcoholic or non-alcoholic) served without food or amounts below €25.

You do not need to be on a ‘staycation’ to avail of the scheme. You can also claim for expenses you paid in your local area if they meet the definition of qualifying expenditure.

You must have receipts to prove your claim for Stay and Spend expenses.

You can make your claim in two stages:

  1. Submit your receipts to Revenue using the Revenue Receipts Tracker mobile app or using the receipts tracker service in Revenue’s myAccount 
  2. Make an electronic claim for Stay and Spend tax credit through your Income tax return – Form 12 in myAccount (if you are a PAYE taxpayer) or Form 11 in ROS (if you are self- employed).

Read more about the Stay and Spend Tax Credit on citizensinformation.ie

During the COVID-19 pandemic, you can find comprehensive integrated information online at citizensinformation.ie/covid19/ and you can get daily updates on what’s changed on Twitter at @citizensinfo. You can also get information and advice from:

  • The Citizens Information Phone Service: Call 0761 07 4000, Monday to Friday, 9am – 8pm
  • Our national call back service: Visit citizensinformation.ie/callback to request a phone call from an information officer

A limited number of appointments are being made in Citizens Information Centres offices where social distancing can be facilitated. You can continue to contact your local centre by email or phone using the details in Find a Centre page on citizensinformation.ie.

Know your rights: Help to Buy

I’m planning to buy my first home, how do I qualify for the Help to Buy Scheme?

As a first-time buyer, if you buy or self-build a new residential property, you may be able to claim a refund of income tax and DIRT that you paid over the previous 4 tax years. You cannot claim relief on the PRSI or USC you paid.

The maximum relief has been temporarily increased until 31 December 2020. Now, you can claim enhanced relief on the lesser of:

  • €30,000
  • 10% of the purchase price of the property
  • 10% of the completion value of a self-build
  • The amount of income tax and DIRT you paid for the previous 4 years

To be eligible for the enhanced relief, you must sign a contract for a new house or draw down on a self-build mortgage between 23 July 2020 and 31 December 2020.

To qualify, the property must:

  • Be a new-build property or a self-build
  • Cost under €500,000
  • Be bought or built as your first home (it cannot be an investment property)

You must also:

  • Live in the property for 5 years from the date that it is habitable
  • Be fully tax compliant for the 4 years immediately before your claim

You do not qualify if you:

  • Are a cash buyer
  • Are buying with someone else who is not a first-time buyer
  • Have previously bought or built a property, either individually or jointly with anyone else, even if you are now separated or divorced from that person. If you have inherited or been gifted a property previously, it does not affect your eligibility.

You must take out a mortgage of at least 70% of the purchase price (or, for a self-build, 70% of the valuation approved by the mortgage provider). This is known as the loan to value ratio. You can have a guarantor on the loan.

You can read more about the Enhanced Help to Buy Scheme on Revenue.ie


During the COVID-19 pandemic, you can find comprehensive integrated information online at citizensinformation.ie/covid19/ and you can get daily updates on what’s changed on Twitter at @citizensinfo. You can also get information and advice from:

  • The Citizens Information Phone Service: Call 0761 07 4000, Monday to Friday, 9am – 8pm
  • Our national call back service: Visit citizensinformation.ie/callback to request a phone call from an information officer

A limited number of appointments are being made in Citizens Information Centres offices where social distancing can be facilitated. You can continue to contact your local centre by email or phone using the details in Find a Centre page on citizensinformation.ie.

Know your rights: Buying a service

I just had a new patio fitted by a landscape gardener 2 months ago. The patio slabs are already beginning to crack. I am not happy with the quality of the work. What can I do?

When you hire someone to perform a service you are making a contract. As parties to the contract, you and the landscape gardener (the ‘service supplier’) have rights and obligations.  If your service supplier does not do what they said they would, they are in breach of the contract. Contracts can be written or verbal and a verbal agreement is still legally binding.

Under the Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act, 1980 you can expect that:

  • The supplier has the necessary skill to provide the service
  • The service will be provided with proper care and diligence
  • The materials used will be sound
  • Any goods supplied with the service will be of merchantable quality (that is of reasonable and acceptable standard, taking into account other factors such as durability and price)

Your service supplier is not allowed to mislead you. They should give you accurate and truthful information about the service. A misleading claim includes where you were told the service is of particular standard or quality and it isn’t.

If something goes wrong, your service supplier must put things right. As a general rule, the service supplier can repair or replace the service. Alternatively, they can refund the costs of the service to you.

If you are not happy with the quality of the service you should:

  • Act as soon as you can – a delay can indicate that you have accepted faulty services
  • Do not attempt to repair what went wrong yourself or give it to anyone else to repair it
  • Make sure that you have a proof of purchase (a receipt, cheque stub, credit card statement or invoice)
  • Keep all evidence of damage caused by poor work, for example take photos
  • Check any warranty or guarantee you got from your service provider (the warranty or guarantee is the service supplier’s promise about the quality of their services and what they will do if there are problems). 

First, complain to the service supplier – explain what the problem is and how you want it to be put right. Put your complaint in writing so that you have a record. If you complain over-the-phone or face-to-face make sure to take note of what was agreed.

If the service supplier disputes your claims about the quality of the work, you may need to get the opinion of an independent expert.

Finally, if you have complained to the service supplier and the problem is still not resolved, you can use the small claims procedure (for jobs less than €2,000) or take a civil case (for claims over €2,000).

You can get more advice in our documents on complaining about building or home improvements and on buying a service.


During the COVID-19 pandemic, you can find comprehensive integrated information online at citizensinformation.ie/covid19/ and you can get daily updates on what’s changed on Twitter at @citizensinfo. You can also get information and advice from:

  • The Citizens Information Phone Service: Call 0761 07 4000, Monday to Friday, 9am – 8pm
  • Our national call back service: Visit citizensinformation.ie/callback to request a phone call from an information officer

A limited number of appointments are being made in Citizens Information Centres offices where social distancing can be facilitated. You can continue to contact your local centre by email or phone using the details in Find a Centre page on citizensinformation.ie.

Statement from the Citizens Information Board

In response to recent press coverage of content on our website, citizensinformation.ie, the Citizens Information Board would like to clarify that we are not funded by the HSE. We are funded by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.

The Citizens Information website publishes information for the general public in Ireland. We integrate information from a range of sources. We are not an official source of government information but we ensure that we source and verify all the information we publish from official government sources. We are confident in the accuracy of our information.

Our webpage on Testing for COVID-19 covers information for people in Ireland who may need to be tested for COVID-19. In this page, we refer to self-isolating and no longer requiring to self-isolate in the context of people who have been tested on the advice of the HSE, and does not apply to people who must restrict their movements for 14 days upon entry to the State.

Our webpages on Returning to Ireland and COVID-19 and COVID-19: Travel overview  cover information for people returning to Ireland from abroad and what they need to do.

Our webpage on Restricted movement and self-isolation for COVID-19 covers the differences between self-isolation and restricting movements in detail.

ENDS