Over €250 million in Social Protection measures in Budget 2016

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Package will deliver rate rise for pensioners, increase Child Benefit for families, provide targeted assistance for vulnerable groups, and help jobseekers back to work

Total welfare expenditure in 2016 will amount to €19.638 billion

13th October 2015 - The Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton T.D., has today announced a social protection Budget package for 2016 with four key aims:   

  • To increase supports for pensioners aged 66 and over;
  • To strengthen supports for families with children;
  • To increase the momentum to date in helping jobseekers back to work; and
  • To provide targeted assistance for vulnerable groups.

The Tánaiste said: "The first critical point is that the progress we have made in helping jobseekers back into work has allowed us to invest in welfare improvements.  That will continue in 2016, and we are providing, in a responsible way, targeted increases for pensioners, families and vulnerable groups."

Supports for pensioners aged 66 and over:

The Budget will increase the weekly rate for pensioners aged 66 and over for the first time since 2009, benefitting more than 676,500 pensioners and their dependants. From January, 2016 people aged 66 and over who are getting a State Pension, Widow’s Pension, Widower’s Pension, Surviving Civil Partner’s Pension or a Carer’s Allowance will receive an above-inflation increase of €3 on their payment every week.  Those claiming for dependent spouses/partners will receive an extra €2.70 and €2 a week where the dependant is aged 66 or over or under 66 respectively.  Some 583,000 recipients and 93,500 dependants will benefit from these increases.  

All other weekly welfare payments and supports will be maintained in 2016.

The Tánaiste said: "Throughout the worst of the crisis, the Government protected the State pension.  Today, I am pleased to announce a €3 increase in the weekly rate of payments to all social welfare recipients aged 66 and over.  So many pensioners have supported their adult children and their families throughout very difficult times. They deserve to see their income in retirement increase now that we have some room to do so. They will also benefit from the 75% Christmas Bonus."

Supports for families with children:

For families, Child Benefit will increase by €5, bringing the payment to €140 for each child per month from January. This increase will benefit some 623,000 families at a cost of an additional €72 million next year. 

A new Paternity Benefit is being introduced next year whereby fathers will, for the first time, have the option of applying for 2 weeks’ leave in respect of births from September 2016. This will be paid at €230 per week, based on the same PRSI contributions as required for Maternity Benefit.  The Tánaiste said: "I am particularly pleased to announce the introduction of a Paternity Benefit scheme from next year.  This is one of the measures which I am announcing in order to support families in the workplace and, in particular recognises the important role of fathers in bringing up their children."

Supports for jobseekers and families in employment:

To help families return to or stay in work, and work towards financial independence over time, a number of measures are being announced.

Some €18 million is being provided to increase the Family Income Supplement (FIS) thresholds - by €5 for a family with one child and by €10 for a family with two children or more.

FIS is an in-work support for employees with families on low earnings, who otherwise might be at risk of financial poverty. FIS preserves the incentive to remain in employment in circumstances where the employee might only be marginally better off than if he or she were unemployed and claiming social welfare. 

The measure will benefit nearly 60,000 families and over 131,000 children, including an additional 1,500 households and 3,365 children becoming eligible for FIS as a result of the increase in income thresholds.

In addition, lone parent families who transitioned from One Parent Family Payment to Jobseeker’s Transitional Payment will be able to retain more income from employment under changes to the latter scheme.

The income disregard is being increased from €60 to €90 with effect from January.  In addition, all earnings above €90 will be assessed at 50% rather than the existing 60%.

The measure will cost €8 million a year, and is expected to benefit 5,900 recipients in 2016.

A new tapered PRSI Credit for Class A employees earning between €352.01 and €424 a week will reduce the weekly PRSI bill for over 88,000 employees. 

The lower 8.5% Class A rate of employer PRSI is being extended from January to weekly earning up to €376 (up from €356) and will benefit over 26,000 employers.

Finally, participants on Community Employment, Rural Social Scheme, Tús, Gateway and similar schemes will receive a top up payment of €2.50 per week towards meals and travel costs.

Supports for vulnerable groups:

The Tánaiste said she was particularly pleased to announce that the Respite Care Grant will be increased by €325 to €1,700 next year.  The name of the grant will change to Carer’s Support Grant to reflect its usage, which is broader than respite only.

In addition, carers who are in receipt of Carer’s Allowance will continue to receive their payment for an additional 6 weeks subsequent to the death of the loved one for whom they are caring. This will bring the total grace period from 6 weeks to 12 weeks. 

Fuel Allowance, a vital support for qualifying welfare recipients, will be increased by €2.50 a week, from €20 to €22.50, commencing in January.
The School Meals Programme will receive additional funding of €3 million in 2016.

The Free Travel Scheme will be fully maintained with €3 million additional funding being provided in 2016 to meet increased numbers eligible for the scheme.

Christmas Bonus:

The Tánaiste confirmed that a Christmas Bonus of 75% will be paid to 1.23 million people in early December, at a cost of €197 million.  The Tánaiste reinstated the Bonus at a rate of 25% last year after it had been abolished by the previous Government in 2009. This will benefit people, such as pensioners, people with disabilities, carers and long-term unemployed people.  The Tánaiste said: "The Christmas Bonus is a welcome assistance to many groups at a financially stressful time of year.  It is spent in the local economy, in local businesses and stores, providing a stimulus to communities across the country."


Last modified:13/10/2015

 Budget 2016