Social welfare recipients to get Christmas bonus

PENSIONERS, lone parents, unemployed people and other social welfare recipients will get their traditional “bonus” payment this year.

Social Affairs Minister Mary Hanafin said she had cabinet support to continue the bonus, which is equivalent to 100% of each recipient’s normal weekly payment.

An estimated 1.3 million people will benefit, at a cost of more than €200m.

“Despite the very difficult [budgetary] situation... we were always particularly anxious to try and support those who are dependent on social welfare, the people who are most vulnerable, and that’s why the Government agreed to give the 100% bonus again this year,” said Ms Hanafin.

“We all recognise that there are significant pressures for families and individuals around Christmas time, and this funding will go some way towards meeting their needs.”

The bonus payments are expected to be made during the first week of December.

But while Labour welcomed the announcement, the party said it would not make up for other harsh aspects of the budget.

“While the extra payment is welcome, it will not compensate for what was one of the most miserable budget social welfare packages in recent times,” said its spokeswoman on social affairs Roisín Shortall. “Most recipients will get increases only barely in line with inflation, while the budget also included a whole series of cutbacks in a range of schemes.”

There was “real public anger” about raising the qualifying age for disability allowance from 16 to 18.

Ms Shortall also criticised the withdrawal of child benefit from over 18s in full-time education.

“This may well have the effect of driving children from lower-income families out of education.”


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