​ ​ €21.2 billion to be spent on Social Welfare in 2020

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€21.2 billion to be spent on Social Welfare in 2020
Social Welfare Budget Package Prioritises Vulnerable Older People and Children
Carers can now work up to 18.5 hours a week
Hot School Meals to be provided to an additional 35,000 primary  schoolchildren
Specific job activation and training supports for groups who have difficulty finding work


Tuesday, 8 October, 2019: Minister Regina Doherty, T.D., has announced a social welfare package of €21.2 billion for 2020 which includes €171.2 million in additional social welfare expenditure that specifically targets those most in need.  Over 200,000 older people and people with a disability living alone will receive increased payments.  There will also be additional support for children at risk of poverty including provision for 35,000 more children to avail of free Hot School Meals.
Minister Doherty commented:
“Governing is in essence all about choices and particularly so when you can’t cater for all that you would like to do. As this Government delivers a prudent Budget in the shadow of Brexit, I have chosen to ensure that we get maximum impact for families –   particularly vulnerable children and older people.
“Despite the fact that we all have to work within a limited Budget that does not mean we cannot be innovative. I am particularly pleased to progress the momentum behind free hot school meals and drive change in how we assist those who are particularly challenged in their search for a job. I am also seeking to take a first step towards addressing the current unacceptable system we have for determining maintenance payments. 
“A budget is not just about money, it is also about ensuring that you use your resources to effect the best possible changes for society. I hope that the changes announced today will improve the lot of as many families and vulnerable people as possible.”
Living Alone Allowance
People with disabilities and pensioners who are living alone will receive an increase of €5 per week on their Living Alone Allowance payment.  This increase will take effect from the week beginning 6 January, 2020, benefiting over 160,000 pensioners and 40,000 people with disabilities who are living alone.
Also, from the week beginning 6 January, 2020 people receiving weekly social welfare payments with dependent children will get an increase.  Families with children aged 12 and over will receive a weekly increase of €3 for each child and those with children under 12 will get a weekly increase of €2 for each child. This builds on increases introduced by the Minister last year.
The increases on the weekly payments will take effect during the week beginning 6 January, 2020 rather than the end of March as had been the case in previous years.
Working lone parents will see the earnings disregard increase by €15 to €165 per week from January, allowing them to earn more without affecting their One Parent Family Payment or Jobseeker’s Transition payment.
The Minister has increased the income thresholds on the Working Family Payment by €10 per week for families with up to three children, ensuring that more low income families qualify for the payment.  It also ensures that the families already availing of this employment support will benefit from an additional €6 per week.
Fuel and Household supports
The Fuel Allowance will be increased by €2 per week to €24.50 from January with some 370,000 households set to benefit. This will offset any carbon tax costs for the most vulnerable in society.
Other measures include extending the Household Benefits package i.e. gas/electricity allowance and free TV licence to people under 70 who have another adult living with them. 
Help for those seeking work
€2.5 million is being provided to target specific job activation and training supports for groups who are most distant from the labour market or have challenges entering the workplace. In particular, Minister Doherty emphasised that she wishes to develop ‘Returnships’ for women who have been out of the workplace for a prolonged period of time – usually to raise a family or care for a relative – and help them to participate once more in the workforce.
Jobseekers aged 25 will receive an increase of €45.20 in their weekly payment from January, bringing them up to the maximum rate payable, thereby discontinuing the reduced payment currently in place for 25 year old jobseekers.
The Jobseeker’s Allowance payment made to jobseekers who are under 25 will be increased to the maximum rate where they are living independently and in receipt of State housing support e.g. rent supplement or HAP. 
An additional €2m is being provided in the training budget for the Community Employment scheme, benefiting over 20,000 participants.
Carers will have the opportunity to work or attend a training course for up to 18.5 hours per week.  The Minister particularly prioritised this measure in response to the carers she met who told her that they found the current number of 15 hours to be too restrictive.
Hot School Meals
Minister Doherty is providing an additional €4 million in funding to extend the Hot School Meals scheme nationwide in 2020. If the full-year evaluation of the current pilot project confirms the positive impacts initially reported, this funding will allow the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection to extend the Hot School Meals scheme to up to 35,000 children, especially those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds.
The Minister also announced that her Department is to establish a judge-led group to determine, based on best international practice, maintenance guidelines and regulations which can hopefully be put on a statutory footing and which will achieve better outcomes for families.
The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection is also to commission a research project that will examine funeral poverty in Ireland and the wider economic impact of bereavement.
Minister Doherty emphasised:
“Today’s Budget demonstrates this Government’s commitment to providing a better deal for families.  The social welfare package builds on the significant increases of recent years and focuses on the groups in society who are most vulnerable and most at risk of poverty.  I will continue to work to ensure that our social welfare system focuses on the people who are most vulnerable in our society.”
Christmas Bonus
The Minister also announced that the Social Welfare Christmas Bonus will be paid to
1.2 million people at a rate of 100% again this year.
“I am pleased to have received Government approval for the payment of the social welfare Christmas Bonus, at a rate of 100% again this year, which will be paid in early December. It will benefit all recipients of long-term social welfare payments including carers, people with disabilities, pensioners, and lone parents. Many people depending on weekly welfare payments throughout the country value the bonus at this particularly expensive time.”
A full list of today’s measures can be found in the Budget Factsheet at www.welfare.ie

Contact Details
T: 01 704 3082
Twitter: @welfare_ie
Last modified:08/10/2019