NEARLY 400,000 households will see a reduction of €120 a year in fuel allowance payments from the Government.
The Government is cutting the "fuel season" from 32 weeks at present to 26 weeks.
This means that recipients will lose out on payments of €20 a week for six weeks of the year -- a total of €120.
Social Protection Minister Joan Burton said recipients -- who are mainly those on long-term social welfare payments -- would still get the payment for the coldest winter months from mid-October to mid-April.
The number of people receiving it soared from 266,000 in 2005 to 390,000 this year, and the cost had trebled from €82m a year to €250m, which she said was unsustainable. The Government is projecting savings of €51m from this change next year.
However, older people's charities said this would have a disproportionate impact on the elderly who were already facing the choice between eating or heating.
ALONE chief executive Sean Moynihan said that this cut was a "life or death issue for the people we work with".