As part of Budget 2020, I announced, on 8th October this year, that I was directing the resources available to me towards a series of targeted measures to ensure that the social welfare system supports the most vulnerable people in our society.
These measures include:
- A €5 increase to the living alone allowance for over 160,000 pensioners, widows and widowers and over 40,000 people with disabilities;
- Increases in the qualified child payment by €3 per week for children aged 12 and over and by €2 per week for under 12s, in recognition of the need for greater income support for welfare-dependent households with children;
- A further increase in the earnings disregard for the one parent family payment and jobseeker transition payment by €15 per week, increasing the incomes of working lone parents;
- Enhancement of the school meals programme to deliver hot meals instead of cold lunches to up to 35,000 children;
- Restoration of the full-rate of jobseeker’s allowance for 25-year-olds; and, for 18-24 year olds, payment of the full rate for young people living independently and in receipt of state housing supports;
- An increase of €10 per week in the income thresholds for the working family payment for families with up to 3 children;
- An increase in the fuel allowance payment by €2 per week, bringing its value to €686 over the course of the fuel season for 370,000 households.
I also introduced a disregard for Blind Welfare Allowance in social assistance schemes means tests and provided for an increase in the hours that carers can work or study outside the home from 15 hours to 18 and a half hours per week.
These increases and improvements to social welfare payments will take effect from week beginning 6th January 2020.