Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys, has announced that over €1 billion in social protection increases are to come into effect from this week.

The improvements, secured as part of Ireland’s Budget 2023, provide for a range of supports for pensioners, carers, people with disabilities and low-income families.

Speaking in Dublin, the minister outlined the timelines for the improvements.

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Among the improvements coming into effect are across-the-board increases in weekly payments which will benefit over 1.5 million people.

The changes also include the largest ever expansion of the Fuel Allowance scheme and significant improvements to the Working Family Payment.

Among the measures coming into effect in January are:

  • A €12 increase in the maximum rate of all core weekly payments – benefitting over 1.5 million people;
  • Largest ever expansion of the Fuel Allowance scheme which will see an estimated 81,000 additional households qualify for the payment for the first time;
  • Working Family Payment thresholds to increase by €40 per week for all family sizes;
  • A €25 increase, from €140 to €165, in the weekly earnings disregard (that is income discounted in the means test) for recipients of the Disability Allowance and Blind Pension
    an increase of €20.50 in the monthly rate of Domiciliary Care Allowance bringing the payment to €330 per month. This increase is to support people who play a valuable role in Irish society – parents or guardians who look after a child with a severe disability;
  • A €2 increase in payments in respect of children of social welfare recipients, bringing the payment to €42 per week for children under 12 and €50 per week for children aged 12 and over;
  • Farming families – a doubling in the amount of income that can be derived from agri-environmental schemes (e.g., Glas, ACRES) and counted in assessing means for the Farm Assist scheme. As a result of this measure, €5,000 can now be disregarded;
  • increase in earnings attracting the lower Employer PRSI rate in line with increase in the national minimum wage which supports employment;
  • These measures are on top of the eight lump payments – already paid in October, November and December – that Minister Humphreys secured as part of Budget 2023 to assist families with the cost of living.

These payments include the autumn cost-of-living payment, a double payment of child benefit, an additional €400 for Fuel Allowance recipients, an additional €200 for recipients of the Living Alone Allowance, an additional €500 for Working Family Payment recipients, a €500 Payment for Carer’s and a €500 Disability Support Grant.

The total cost of these lump sum payments comes to €1.2 billion.

Announcing the social protection measures, Minister Humphreys said: “I am delighted to announce that over €1 billion in social protection improvements are to come into effect from tomorrow.

“These improvements will benefit hundreds of thousands of households and families right across the country, including our carers, pensioners, lone parents and people with disabilities.

“I’m pleased to again increase the core rates of our weekly payments by €12 per week. This will see more money put back into people’s pockets, particularly at a time when people are feeling the pressures associated with the cost of living.

“As a result of this increase, over 1.5 million people set to receive more money into their accounts this week. This is the largest increases in weekly payments for over a decade.

“I’m particularly pleased to have secured a major expansion of the Fuel Allowance Scheme, which will benefit up to 81,000 new households for the first time.

“I have once again increased the Qualified Child payments, a proven way to help reduce poverty. I have also increased the income thresholds for the Working Family Payment ensuring more families will be brought into the scheme.

“The measures coming into effect this week are in addition to the series of lump-sum payments issued recently and are designed to put more money back in people’s pockets and assist families across the country with the cost of living.”

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