Social Protection | Expanding or extending social welfare payments given the increased cost of living
To ask the Minister for Social Protection if she will outline the extent, if any, to which she intends to expand or extend various social welfare payments given the increased cost of living; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
I fully recognise the challenges the increased the cost of living has brought to many people and families. That is why, in September, I announced the largest social protection Budget package in the history of the State – comprising measures worth almost €2.2 billion.
This included eight separate cost of living lump sum payments paid in Quarter 4 last year to ease the pressure that many households are facing.
From the start of January, we have seen a wide range of increases come into effect. This includes a €12 across the board increase to weekly rates – the largest increase to weekly rates since the mid-2000s.
I also announced the largest ever expansion in the Fuel Allowance scheme, and over 30,000 additional households have joined this scheme since the Budget announcement in September.
The ESRI post-Budget analysis shows that Budget 2023, combined with once-off measures to reduce the cost of living, has been effective in protecting most households from rising prices through the winter and in fact that lower income households are better off than if they had just received an inflation indexed increase in basic rates.
Government has continued to monitor the situation and that is why, last month we announced additional support for people over the coming months, including:
– A €200 lump sum payment to be provided to people on long-term Social Protection payments, on the same basis as the Christmas bonus, and including Working Family Payment recipients;
– For people receiving Child Benefit, a €100 lump sum payment for each child to be paid in June;
– An additional payment of €100 to be paid for each child for whom Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance is paid.
Together, these supports will provide a further €410 million in additional supports to households and families in need.
I can assure the Deputy that the Government will continue to monitor the situation.
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