22 Jul 2021, 14.05

The Joint Committee on Social Protection, Community and Rural Development and the Islands has today published its Pre-Budget submission to the Minster for Social Protection.

The cross-party Committee’s submission to the Minister contains 76 recommendations for Budget 2022 including:

·       A rise in all social welfare payment rates - equivalent to the cost of living increases.

·       An increase in the rate payable for young Jobseekers aged 18-24 years in Budget 2022, with the aim of full restoration by 2026

·       Extensions to Fuel Allowance eligibility and an increase in the period for paying fuel allowance by 4 weeks to 32 weeks.

·       A funding hike for the Schools Meals Scheme

·       An increase in the income disregard for people in receipt of One Parent Family Payment from €165 to €200

·       The establishment of a statutory Child Maintenance Service to ensure that child maintenance is collected and paid towards the care of the child or children

·       The income disregard for those in receipt of Carer’s Allowance is increased to €500 for a single person and €1,000 for a couple

·       An urgent review of the means test for family carers is carried out as part of the Budget 2022

·       Local Employment Services and Jobs Clubs be maintained in their current model

Cathaoirleach of the Committee Deputy Denis Naughten TD said: “The Joint Committee is committed to ensuring the recommendations in the report are implemented to create positive change for the most vulnerable in society. The Committee is of the view that the recommendations would have a significant positive impact with many recommendations not creating substantial additional expenditure for the Department of Social Protection.

“A functioning and robust Social Protection system is an important function of any modern society and the State must ensure that it supports all those who make a vital contribution to Irish society by performing work in the home, supporting local communities and acting as family carers. The contributions made by all must be recognised and rewarded. Similarly, those who are preparing to return to the workforce must be encouraged and should be assisted to find appropriate work for their own needs and circumstances. “

The Joint Committee held three public meetings and received 13 submissions from interested interested organisations and individuals as part of its pre-budget deliberations for the report.

Deputy Denis Naughten thanked all interested organisations and individuals who contributed to the pre-budget deliberations during meetings or in written submissions. He thanked Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív T.D. who acted as rapporteur on the report for his hard work and dedication to the topic.

Other recommendations include:

·        That the Minister engages with the Minister of Environment, Climate and Communications on the expansion and delivery of the Better Energy Warmer Homes Scheme and raising the minimum BER rating of rental properties

·        The reform of the means assessments of “Increase for a Qualified Adult” for contributory pensioners should be reformed

·        The time limits for those aged 55 years and over on Community Employment schemes be relaxed

·       The number of places on the Rural Social Scheme is increased by 1,000

Read the full report and its recommendations here.

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Committee membership

Deputies

Fianna Fáil

Fine Gael

Independents 4 Change

Sinn Féin

Sinn Féin

Independent

Fianna Fáil

Senators

Fine Gael

Green Party

Sinn Féin

Fianna Fáil

Labour Party