This Government has committed to making the needs of families a priority, especially lone parents, children and those on lower incomes.
Over the last three Budgets, the maximum rates of all weekly payments have increased by €15. We have also increase the payments to qualified children for the first time since 2010 and provided for higher payments to children aged 12 years and over.
In addition, we restored the Christmas Bonus to 100%. This is paid to over 1.2 million long-term social welfare recipients to assist people with the extra expenses incurred over the Christmas period.
Recent budgetary changes have resulted in real increases to the rates of payment. Increasing the standard rates of payment is, however, only one approach the Government has taken to improve the living standards of social welfare recipients. We have also introduced measures which target those most at risk of poverty such as increasing the back to school clothing and footwear allowance, extending the fuel allowance season, increasing funding for school meals, increasing income disregards for lone parents and low income families and strengthening the provision of employment supports.
As part of Budget preparations, as well as assessing developments in the economic environment, my Department examines the impact of potential Budget measures on income and poverty rates and a social impact assessment is carried out. This is an evidence-based methodology which estimates the likely distributive effects of changes on household income using the ESRI’s SWITCH model.
Discussions are ongoing in relation to the Budget on October 8th.