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Budget 2013: Breakdown of changes to social welfare payments

Cuts to the child benefit rate is causing anxiety this evening, along with a range of other newly-announced changes.

Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

THE GOVERNMENT HAS introduced a raft of changes to social welfare payments as part of this year’s Budget – with the cut to the child benefit rate, in particular, causing some consternation this evening.

Families will lose a Child Benefit payment €10 a month for the first and second child, €18 a month for the third child, and €20 a month for fourth and subsequent children - a measure that Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin said would save €136 million annually.

The Back to School and Footwear Allowance will be reduced by €50 to €100 for children aged between 4 and 11, and from €250 to €200 to children aged between 12 and 17 (or aged 18 to 22 and in full-time education).

Changes have been applied to Farm Assist income support: the rate of assessment of means from self-employment, including farming, is being raised from 85 per cent to 100 per cent, while the deductions from income in respect of children are being discontinued. The payments are currently €127 per year for each of the first two dependent children and €190.50 per year for each subsequent child.

The duration of Jobseekers’ Benefit will be reduced from 12 months to nine months for recipients with 260 or more contributions paid, or
nine months to six months for recipients with less than 260 contributions paid.

The employer rebate element of the statutory Redundancy Payments Scheme (currently 15 per cent) will be discontinued, and expenditure of the Supplementary Welfare Allowances reduced.

The €300 Cost of Education Allowance payable to Back to Education Allowance participants will be discontinued for both new and existing participants, as the weekly rate payable on the scheme is to be equalised with that payable on the qualifying social protection payment. A standard maximum rate of €160 per week will apply to qualifying Jobseeker’s Allowance participants in receipt of age-related reduced rate payments.

The Respite Care Grant will be reduce by €325, from €1,700 to €1,375 per annum.

Changes will be introduced to the electricity/gas element of the Household Benefits Package, and a reduction will also be applied to the the value of the Telephone Allowance for new and existing participants.

Meanwhile, additional fraud and control measures will be put in place to tackle cases of fraud and overpayment, along with the introduction of legislation to ensure the greater recovery of social welfare overpayments.

Increased funding will be provided for activation programmes and school meal provisions, and €14 million will be allocated to the creation of extra after-school childcare places for social welfare clients returning to work. An extra €17.4 million in funding is being allocated in 2013 to build new facilities at the Oberstown children’s detention centre.

Overall, spending in the area of social welfare has been increased by €150 million. No primary weekly payment of social welfare being changed (ie pensions, disability payments, jobseekers’ allowances and benefits).

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