Section 19 of the Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registration Act 2018 provides that "The Minister shall consult with stakeholders on examining ways in which social welfare rates are increased with the aim of ensuring adequacy for all recipients and shall do so in quarter 1 of 2019”. My Department has met with interested stakeholders to hear their views and comments on how the adoption of a benchmark, and a system of indexation, might work. This has involved bilateral meetings with certain stakeholders and roundtable meetings with a range of groups. The organisations consulted included the community and voluntary pillar, ICTU, IBEC, NESC, the ESRI and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.
In addition, I intend that the issue will be considered further at my Department's Pre-Budget Forum in July. I would also welcome views from all political parties who are interested in this area and submissions should be made to my office.
Any change to the current process of setting social welfare rates of payment would require Government approval and would have to be considered in the overall policy and budgetary context. This would include taking account of stakeholder views, as well as considerations of cost, work incentives, poverty alleviation, policy alignment and the administration of any proposed system.