#Budget2020: Doherty promises 'maximum impact for families' in detail of €21.2bn Social Welfare budget

#Budget2020: Doherty promises 'maximum impact for families' in detail of €21.2bn Social Welfare budget
Picture: Collins

Regina Doherty has announced details of the €21.2bn to be spent on Social Welfare in 2020.

The Minister for Social Protection announced that more than 200,000 older people and people with a disability living alone will receive increased payments.

There will also be additional support for children at risk of poverty including provision for 35,000 more children to avail of free hot school meals.

Minister Doherty commented: "As this Government delivers a prudent Budget in the shadow of Brexit, I have chosen to ensure that we get maximum impact for families - particularly vulnerable children and older people."

Children

The Minister revealed that from 6 January, 2020, people receiving weekly social welfare payments with dependent children will get an increase.

A statement said: "Families with children aged 12 and over will receive a weekly increase of €3 for each child and those with children under 12 will get a weekly increase of €2 for each child...This builds on increases introduced by the Minister last year."

It added: "Working lone parents will see the earnings disregard increase by €15 to €165 per week from January, allowing them to earn more without affecting their One Parent Family Payment or Jobseeker’s Transition payment."

The Minister has increased the income thresholds on the Working Family Payment by €10 per week for families with up to three children, so that more low-income families qualify for the payment.

"It also ensures that the families already availing of this employment support will benefit from an additional €6 per week," she added.

Hot school meals

Ms Doherty is also set to provide €4m in funding to extend the hot school meals scheme nationwide in 2020.

The scheme will be extended to include up to 35,000 children, especially those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds.

Carers

Ms Doherty announced that carers will have the opportunity to work or attend a training course for up to 18.5 hours per week. The statement said: "The Minister particularly prioritised this measure in response to the carers she met who told her that they found the current number of 15 hours to be too restrictive."

Job seekers

The department is providing €2.5m "to target specific job activation and training supports for groups who are most distant from the labour market or have challenges entering the workplace."

Ms Doherty said she wants to "develop ‘Returnships’ for women who have been out of the workplace for a prolonged period of time - usually to raise a family or care for a relative - and help them to participate once more in the workforce."

It has been revealed that jobseekers aged 25 will receive an increase of €45.20 in their weekly payment from January.

It was also announced that "the Jobseeker’s Allowance payment made to jobseekers who are under 25 will be increased to the maximum rate where they are living independently and in receipt of State housing support."

Fuel and Household supports

The Fuel Allowance will be increased by €2 per week to €24.50 from January, the department announced, adding: "This will offset any carbon tax costs for the most vulnerable in society."

Other measures include extending the household benefits package ie. gas/electricity allowance and free TV licence to people under 70 who have another adult living with them.

The Christmas bonus will also be paid to 1.2 million people at a rate of 100% again this year, doubling the payment.

"The social welfare package builds on the significant increases of recent years and focuses on the groups in society who are most vulnerable and most at risk of poverty," said Ms Doherty.

"I will continue to work to ensure that our social welfare system focuses on the people who are most vulnerable in our society."

She added: “A budget is not just about money, it is also about ensuring that you use your resources to effect the best possible changes for society. I hope that the changes announced today will improve the lot of as many families and vulnerable people as possible.”

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