Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Ceisteanna (889)

Mary Butler

Ceist:

889. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated cost of restoring the bereavement grant; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23642/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

During the economic downturn, my Department focused on protecting primary social welfare rates.  In recent years, as the economy has been recovering, the Government has concentrated resources in improving the core rates of payments, particularly for pensioners, resulting in considerable increases in these rates.

The Bereavement Grant was a payment of €850 made where the deceased or his/her surviving partner was an insured contributor to the social insurance fund.  Any decision to reinstate it would have to be considered in the context of overall budgetary negotiations.

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.

It’s 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.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Question No. 890 answered with Question No. 886.