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Up by a fiver: Social welfare payments to increase by €5 from March

It follows days of wrangling over the date for the introduction of the payment between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.

shutterstock_411216148 Shutterstock / Andriy Solovyov Shutterstock / Andriy Solovyov / Andriy Solovyov

Updated at 2.30pm 

THE €5 INCREASE to the State pension will come in in March of next year, Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohue confirmed this afternoon.

It follows days of wrangling over the date for the introduction of the payment between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.

Micheál Martin’s party wanted it to be introduced as close to the start of the year as possible – but there was resistance in Fine Gael, with the Government party arguing for the payment to be delayed so that welfare increases for other vulnerable groups could be afforded.

There’ll be €5 increases to all weekly social welfare payments too, from March, Donohoe confirmed today. That will include the carer’s allowance, disability allowance and jobseeker’s benefit and allowance.

There’ll also be an increase in the Christmas bonus paid to welfare recipients, rising from 75% of the weekly payment to 85%.

Talks on resolving the outstanding issues in the Budget concluded yesterday.

Martin had warned at the weekend that the proposal to delay payment increases until the middle of next year was “unacceptable”.

That followed criticism of the government from other senior members of his party the previous day, with Fianna Fáil public expenditure spokesman Dara Calleary singling out Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar for criticism, saying:

Leo likes to make you think he is all cuddly and caring and that he suddenly walked into a phone  box and walked out with a cape of fairness – that’s not Leo.

However by yesterday the language being used by both sides was more measured, with Finance Minister Michael Noonan saying Fianna Fáil had been very responsible in its role so far and FF’s Michael McGrath saying it would be unthinkable that there wouldn’t be a deal – given that the stakes were so high.

Age Action 

Responding to today’s €5 increase, Justin Moran of lobby group Age Action described it as a “first step”.

“We welcome today’s €5 increase as the first step in delivering on that commitment to Ireland’s half a million pensioners,” he said in a statement.

More than 85,000 people over the age of 65 are living in deprivation because of rising costs and cuts to income supports. They need a fair State Pension that will enable older people to live with dignity and independence.

The organisation also expressed its disappointment at the decision to delay the increase.

“While the pension increase is welcome, delaying it to the start of March is going to disappoint many older people who will lose out during some of the coldest months of the year.

A two month delay means a loss of €40 to someone struggling to keep their home warm or to pay for medicine.

Read: The Health Department is getting an extra half a billion euro to help it solve some issues >

Read: Budget 2017: Smokers have been hit hard again, but alcohol and petrol are staying the same >

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