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Social Protection Minister appears to rule out €20 increase in social welfare payments

Minister Humphreys said there ‘won’t be any money left’ for other measures if this were done.

Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys
Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys
Image: PA

SOCIAL PROTECTION MINISTER Heather Humphreys has ruled out a €20 increase in the social welfare payments.

Social Justice Ireland has argued that a €20 increase “must be part of a suite of targeted measures to support households on fixed incomes” in Budget 2023.

Speaking on RTÉ’s ‘This Week’, Minister Heather Humphreys said agreement hasn’t been reached yet on the budget and that “talks will continue”.

Speaking on his way into coalition talks ahead of the budget, Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath said he “is in a position to recommend a set of proposals to the party leaders”.

He added that the proposals are “fair and balanced” and that the budget will “be a very substantial package overall,” with “significant” once-off measures.

Minister McGrath also said he expects to conclude the budget “in substantive form this evening”.

Speaking to RTÉ earlier today however, Minister Humphreys appeared to rule out the €20 increase in core social welfare payments and said: “If I do that, I won’t have any money left to target other measures.”

Minister Humphreys noted the fuel allowance and working family payments as some of these targeted measures.

Social Justice Ireland says the increase is “critical considering increased costs of essentials such as rent, energy and heating costs, and the risks to food security”.

But Minister Humphreys told ‘This Week’ that this would cost over €1.5 billion, adding that the government has to “work within limits”.

She added: “I did listen to Social Justice Ireland at my Department’s pre-budget forum and they make a very strong case.

“So I suppose no matter what we do in this budget, it will never go far enough and we will never be able to meet all of the different demands.”

Minister Humphreys also noted that “there are 14 or 15 other ministers who are also looking for increases in their areas”.

Also speaking to RTÉ’s ‘This Week’, Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall called for a €15 increase to core social welfare payments, starting in October.

She added that there is “a lot of catching up to be done” and that people need this increase.

Shortall also said that a €10 increase wouldn’t “get close to what is required” and that “the next six months will undoubtedly be very difficult on everybody”.

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