Under the supplementary welfare allowance scheme, the Department may make a single exceptional needs payment, ENP, to help meet essential, once-off and unforeseen expenditure which a person could not reasonably be expected to meet out of his or her weekly income. The expenditure on the scheme in 2011 was €62.9 million, in 2012, €52.7 million was expended and some €31.8 million has been spent to date in 2013. An ENP is means tested and is payable at the discretion of the officers administering the scheme, who take into account the requirements of the governing legislation and all the relevant circumstances of the case in order to ensure that the payments target those most in need of assistance. The ENP scheme is demand led. Examples of the main types of needs that are met under it include assistance towards new house kit-outs, funeral and burial expenses, the purchase of household appliances, clothing and child related items such as cots and prams.
To date in 2013, approximately 2,900 payments have been made in respect of funerals and burials at a cost of €3.9 million or an average payment of over €1,350. In determining an entitlement to an ENP for funeral expenses, the relevant Department official will take into account the circumstances of the individual applicant and that of the deceased person including any savings, property, insurance policies etc. The bereavement grant is a once-off insurance-based payment which is generally payable to applicants who are employed or self-employed. While there may be some increase in applications for ENPs for funeral expenses when the bereavement grant is discontinued from January 2014, I do not anticipate that it will be significant.
Our information indicates that a large number of bereavement grants went not to the members of deceased persons' immediate families but rather to other relatives. That is why I have concentrated on retaining the €6,000 payment for widows or widowers who have children.
The social welfare benefits of persons who have died continue to be paid for six weeks.