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Average welfare payments for religious ceremonies halved in 2012

Joan Burton reveals that the average welfare payment for religious ceremony clothing went from €245 to €120.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

THE AVERAGE payment given to welfare recipients to cover clothing for religious ceremonies like Holy Communions fell by more than half in 2012, new figures have shown.

Details published by Social Protection minister Joan Burton show that the value of the average payment made to families seeking help covering the costs of clothing for religious ceremonies stood at €120 last year.

That compares to figures from 2011, when then average payment stood at €245 per person.

€1.5 million was paid to cover such costs in 2012, to 12,464 applicants. The 2011 figures showed that 13,971 applicants were paid a total of €3.42 million.

Revealing the figures in the Dáil yesterday, Burton said the payment would likely fall further, given that the cost of buying clothing for occasions like Communions had fallen in recent years.

The payments are made by community welfare officers on a discretionary basis.

Last year Burton expressed concern at the inconsistency with which applications for discretionary extra payments were being awarded – with officers in some areas in Dublin sanctioning payments of up to €300 for religious ceremonies, while similar requests were refused completely in other areas.

Burton suggested that the payment could fall further in coming years, saying it had been suggested that the payment could fall to a standardised rate of €100 per adult and €50 per child.

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“The staff of the Department of Social Protection are always prepared to give their full consideration to specific cases of hardship,” Burton said.

“In addition to these payments for clothing, we also provide payments to people experiencing difficulties in meeting funeral costs or in kitting out their houses and so on.”

Read: Gilmore: Communion allowance cut to stop ‘lavish’ spending

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