The Social Welfare (Temporary Provisions) Bill, 1955, which is now before the Dáil for Second Reading, is the Bill required to implement the promise made to recipients of old age and blind pensions, widows' (non-contributory) pensions and long-duration disability benefit that an extra week's payment of pension or benefit would be made to them in December.
The object of this additional payment is, as Deputies are aware, to provide the persons concerned with a lump sum payment approximately equal to the extra cost of tea to them for one year following on the recent increase in price of that commodity.
It is not proposed to double the pension or benefit where persons are resident outside the State, and only one extra payment will be made to a person such as a blind pensioner who is also in receipt of long-term disability benefit.
Those who will benefit as a result of this Bill are:—160,000 old age pensioners, 6,000 blind pensioners, 28,000 widows, and 25,000 recipients of long-duration disability benefit, a total in all of 219,000 persons. The cost of the additional payment to these 219,000 persons is estimated at a sum of £253,000.
The additional payment to old age and blind pensioners and to widows in receipt of non-contributory pensions will be made on Friday, the 23rd December. The extra payment to persons in receipt of long-term disability benefit will be made during the week commencing on the 19th December. It has been difficult to make all the arrangements necessary in the short time available, but the difficulties have been overcome and I am glad to say that the additional money should be in the hands of all the recipients before Christmas.
I feel confident that this Bill will recommend itself to Deputies of all Parties, and ask for its early passage in order that the additional payments may be made before Christmas.