The costings requested by the Deputy are set out below:
1) Fuel Allowance
The estimated full year cost of extending the fuel season by 2 weeks (from 28 weeks to 30 weeks) is €16.8 million.
2) Increase rates to 2008 Levels
The only weekly payments that are currently lower than their 2008 levels are Maternity Benefit and reduced rate Jobseeker's Allowance for those under the age of 26 (who would have been paid the full rate at that time). The estimated full year cost of restoring these payments to their 2008 levels (including increasing Paternity Benefit, which did not exist at the time, to the 2008 maximum rate of Maternity Benefit) is €92.1 million.
3) Pension Rates
The estimated full year cost of introducing a €260 per week state pension for all pensioners is €439.4 million. It should be noted that this includes proportionate increases for Qualified Adults.
4) Christmas Bonus
The estimated cost of paying a Christmas Bonus at a rate of 110% is €309.1 million.
5) General Rates Increase
The estimated full year cost of increasing all social welfare payments by €10 is €694.4 million.
6) Working Family Payment Multiplier
At current thresholds, the estimated full year cost of increasing the Working Family Payment multiplier to 75% is €97.1 million.
7) Child Benefit to 18 year olds in education
While the actual cost is dependent upon assumptions made, the estimated full year cost of extending Child benefit to 18 year olds in education is in the range of €80 - €100 million.
8) Extend One Parent Family Payment to families with Children aged 18
The full year cost of increasing the age limit of the One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) to 18 would be very difficult to estimate with accuracy.
There are a number of significant barriers to undertaking such an exercise. Firstly, an increase in the age limits could result in a cohort of lone parents that are currently not in receipt of a social welfare payment becoming eligible and therefore moving onto a social welfare payment. As members of this cohort are not currently in receipt of a social welfare payment it would be difficult to for the Department to estimate the numbers involved.
Secondly, some customers could seek to move from alternative payments such as Jobseeker's Allowance (JA), the Jobseeker’s Transitional Payment (JST) and the Back to Work Family Dividend (BTWFD) back to the OFP. Again, it would be difficult for the Department to estimate the magnitude of this flow between schemes with any degree of accuracy.
Thirdly, such changes would also increase the incidence of dual payments of OFP and the Working Family Payment (WFP). It is not possible to predict the impact on payments as a result of the interaction between both schemes without having detailed knowledge of individuals’ working patterns and the degree to which these might change.
These factors are critical to providing a reliable costing. The Department is therefore not in a position to provide the costing requested.
9) Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance
The estimated cost of increasing the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance by €50 for all children is €13.3 million
10) Maternity Payments
The estimated cost of increasing maternity payments to 12 months (based on Maternity Benefit) is €256 million.
The costs shown above are on a full year basis and are based on the estimated number of recipients in 2019. It should be noted that these costings are subject to change in the context of emerging trends and associated revision of the estimated numbers of recipients for 2020.
It should also be noted that these costings include proportionate increases for qualified adults and for those on reduced rates of payment, where relevant.