Primary weekly social welfare payments are intended to enable recipients to meet their basic day-to-day income needs. In addition to the living alone increase my Department pays out a range of other payments, both cash and non-cash on a weekly, monthly or less frequent basis. These payments are considered secondary in nature.
The living alone increase is currently an additional payment of €9, and it is not a payment in its own right, but rather it is a supplement paid to people aged 66 years or over who are in receipt of certain social welfare payments and who are living alone. It is also available to people who are under 66 years of age who are living alone and are in receipt of Invalidity Pension, Incapacity Supplement or Blind Pension. There are currently over 206,000 recipients of the living alone increase, with circa 167,000 of these in receipt of a state pension payment.
The rate of primary and secondary payments to pensioners, and their adequacy, are considered in the context of the annual budgetary process. In so doing, the Government considers evidence from a wide range of sources, including agencies such as the CSO, and also research submitted by advocacy groups such as the Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice. I am committed to reducing the risk of poverty of marginalised groups, particularly those who live alone. People living alone can be more vulnerable to economic deprivation than two-person households where resources can be pooled.
To this end, the increase for living alone was increased in Budget 2020 from €9 to €14 per week. This increase will be paid to pensioners from January 6th 2020.
I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.