Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Questions (781)

Bríd Smith


781. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated cost of restoring the bereavement grant. [29432/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

It is worth noting that there are a range of supports available for people following bereavement which provide more significant support than the grant.  These include weekly-paid widow's, widower's or surviving civil partner’s (contributory and non-contributory) pensions, which are based on contributions or a means test, and a once-off widowed or surviving civil partner grant of €6,000 where there is a dependent child.  A number of social welfare payments, including State pension, continue in payment for six weeks following a death.  In Budget 2016, the Government increased the payment after death period to 12 weeks for carer’s allowance.  Guardian payments are available where someone cares for an orphaned child.  A special funeral grant of €850 is paid where a person dies because of an accident at work or occupational disease.

Under the Supplementary Allowance scheme, the Department may make a single exceptional needs payment (ENP) to help meet essential, once-off expenditure which a person could not reasonably be expected to meet from their weekly income, which may include help with funeral and burial expenses.  This is a more targeted and efficient manner of assisting people with bereavement expenses. In 2018 ENPs were made in respect of 2,812 funerals at a cost of €5.317m and 69 burial expenses at a cost of €140,674.

The number of bereavement grant claims in 2013 was 23,716, and this represented an increase of approximately 4% on 2012.  Based on a similar yearly increase each year since 2013, it is estimated that the number of bereavement grant claims that might arise in 2020, were the scheme to be reintroduced, would be in the region of 31,200, and the number would be expected to increase in future years.  Accordingly, if there were 31,200 such grants made in 2019, at a rate of €850 each, the cost would be approx. €26.5 million.  Any decision to reinstate it would have to be considered in the context of overall budgetary negotiations.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.