Almost €34m in emergency payments to struggling families

Almost €34m in emergency payments to struggling families

Last month alone the Department of Social Protection paid out €6.5m in urgent additional payments.

The Government has been forced to dramatically hike emergency payments to families struggling with the cost of essentials such as clothing and housing.

Almost €34m has already been paid out by the State this year on top of the usual social welfare payments.

Last month alone the Department of Social Protection paid out €6.5m in urgent additional payments to struggling households. That is almost double the €3.5m paid out in August 2021.

  • €301,079 has been paid out to cover 492 bills in August compared to €96,788 to cover 102 bills in August last year;
  • On housing costs, €3.9m was paid out last month in comparison to €2.7m in August 2021;
  • The State spent €720,474 on clothing in August compared to €71,996 in the same period, a 900% increase;
  • €38,043 was paid out to parents for child-related costs last month in comparison to €28,052 the previous August;
  • General costs also amounted to €858,325 in August but the State only paid out €187,127 in the same month last year.

The stark figures show the challenge faced by the Government in next week's budget, with households already having to contend with surging gas, electricity, and food bills. 

The newly-released figures also show the Government has had to step in to help more people cover funeral costs. The amount paid out last month was €544,596 compared to €369,871 in the same month last year.

The only category that witnessed a dip in pay-outs was for illness, with €16,630 paid out in August compared to to €18,497 last year.

A total of €28.4m was paid out to families seeking help between January and August last year. But in the same period this year, €33.9m has already been spent by the State to help people with the cost-of-living crisis.

Emergency payments

The figures show there was an increase in emergency payments from May this year when prices began to rise steeply and the country felt the effect of the energy crisis caused by the war in Ukraine.

Last month’s €720,474 spend on clothing does not include the Government’s back-to-school clothing and footwear allowance scheme.

The scheme opened for applications in June 2022 and by September 6, payments totalling €79.5m had been made to more than 141,976 families in respect of 253,558 qualified children.

On clothing, €720,474 was paid out last month in response to 5,093 people who sought help, a 900% increase in comparison to August 2021 when €71,996 was paid out by the State to 612 who required additional money to help clothe their families.

The department can make additional needs payments to help meet expenses that a person cannot pay from their weekly income.

The annual and monthly comparative figures on additional needs payments were provided to Labour Cork East TD, Seán Sherlock from the Department of Social Protection.

Mr Sherlock said the figures reveal the reality of the cost-of-living crisis and how households across the country are struggling to cope with increased costs.

Labour's Seán Sherlock said the figures 'lay bare the crisis that our country is facing'. Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos
Labour's Seán Sherlock said the figures 'lay bare the crisis that our country is facing'. Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos

“The figures lay bare the crisis that our country is facing and the pressure parents and families are feeling as they seek emergency support to help cover costs," he said.

“That support is crucial for families facing the coming winter."

"The increase in the number of people seeking help with their bills also reflects the scale of the energy crisis and how people are finding themselves in difficult circumstances, right across society."

Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly in New York last night, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the Government is to claw back profits made by energy companies through higher standing charges this winter. He also said vulnerable people who get into difficulty in meeting their bills will not face being disconnected.

He said there can be no exploitation of people, especially vulnerable people, and the Government will tackle windfall profits made by the sector.

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