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Joan Burton wants to increase the Christmas Bonus again next year

The Tánaiste is in a giving mood and says the partial restoration of the bonus this year is “a start”.

Tánaiste Joan Burton
Tánaiste Joan Burton
Image: Tony Kinlan

Updated 4.29pm 

JOAN BURTON HAS said it is her “hope and expectation” that the partially restored Christmas Bonus can be increased again next year.

The Department of Social Protection has begun paying out the bonus for the first time in five years this week to some 1.2 million long-term welfare claimants including jobseekers, pensioners, carers, lone parents and those with a disability.

The once-off Christmas bonus – which amounted to double a person’s usual social welfare payment – was abolished by the Fianna Fáil-Green government in 2009 in the midst of the financial crisis but it was partially restored as part of October’s budget.

This year the bonus amounts to 25 per cent of a claimant’s usual payment with those in receipt of the full Jobseekers Benefit receiving an additional €47.

Speaking to reporters this afternoon, Burton said she wanted to increase it further if resources allow in the coming years.

“My hope and expectation is that as resources come in we are able to increase it and to have targeted increases in term of social protection to people relying on social welfare income over a long period of time, that they would see some improvement,” she said.

Burton said that going around the country pensioners had told her that they wanted the weekly social welfare rate and free travel pass protected as well as the restoration of the Christmas Bonus.

The Minister for Social Protection said she believed all parties would be favourable towards giving people extra money at Christmas.

“I think for pensioners on a fixed income , to have a little bit extra at this time of the year to contribute towards Christmas, you know because it’s an expensive time, I think that that’s something that all I think all of the parties in the Dáil would agree on,” she added.

Speaking in the Dáil later in the day, the Tánaiste reiterated her commitment to restoring the Christmas Bonus saying this year’s partial restoration was “a start”.

“The reintroduction of the bonus, although it is on a partial basis, along with the other welfare provisions announced in the Budget, they’re real indicators of a social dividend in respect of the economic recovery,” Burton added.

Read: If you receive social welfare your Christmas Bonus is coming this week

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Hugh O'Connell

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