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Wednesday 29 November 2023 Dublin: 1°C
Social Welfare

Here's what the social welfare budget paid for last year

Between pensions, jobseeker’s payments and allowances for children and carers, Joan Burton’s department spend €20.3 billion.

LAST YEAR, JOAN Burton’s Department of Social Protection spent €20.3 billion on social welfare.

This figure was down from the previous year but still represented more than 32% of gross government expenditure and 12.4% of GDP.

Today the department released its annual statistical report on social welfare services, detailing how much was spent on each area and who the 2.2 million people receiving the payments were.


Last year, expenditure on pensions increased by 2.7% to €6.5 billion. Payments were made to over 556,000 people in this area.

As you can see from the graph below, the largest proportion of the budget (31.8%) was spent on pensions, followed by working age income supports like jobseeker’s benefit.

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Working age income supports

The department spent almost €5.5 billion on these supports, with the bulk of the budget for this spent on Jobseeker’s Allowance.

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This represents a decrease of 8.2% on the previous year. Within this, expenditure on Jobseeker’s supports decreased by 3.2% to almost €3.7 billion.

The next largest payment type is the One-parent Family Payment with 78, 346 recipients last year, down 11%.

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Working age employment supports

The department said the payment type with the highest number of recipients is the Back to Education Allowance.

Spending on programmes such as Jobridge and TÚS increased by 4.2% to almost €994 million as a result of higher take-up.

In total, there were over 33, 400 people engaged in employment programmes over the course of last year.

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Illness, disability and caring

Expenditure on Carer’s Benefit fell by 8.4% to over €22 million. The numbers in receipt of a carer’s payment increased, however, from 53, 847 to 58, 734 – an rise of 9.1%.

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The expenditure on Illness Benefit was €648.9 million – a drop of 16.2% on the previous year. Invalidity Pensions cost €707.7 million while Disability Allowance amounted to €1.14 billion in 2013 with 106,279 in receipt of the payment at the end of December.


Some 611,366 families received a monthly Child Benefit payment, which was paid in respect of 1,168,582 children.

As the graph below shows, figures in respect of numbers of child beneficiaries have remained relatively static over the years, with most families claiming for either one or two children.

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Family Income Support was paid to 44, 159 families – an increase of 36.7% – and benefitted 98,350 children.

Expenditure on the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance, which is intended to contribute towards the cost of children returning to school, was €47.9 million in 2013 and the department also provided €36.7 million for School Meals Programmes during the year.

Supplementary payments

Expenditure on Household Benefits amounted to over €290.4 million in 2013. Over 782,500 people were in receipt of Free Travel which cost €75 million and Fuel Allowance expenditure in 2013 was €226.7 million, €15.3 million more than in 2012.

Today the department was eager to point out how little it spend on administration:

It also said that the number of pending claims, ie backlogs, fell by 34.8% last year. In total, some 2,062,177 claims were cleared in 2013, of which 1,744, 076 were awarded and the remainder were either disallowed of withdrawn.

The full report from the Department of Social Protection can be found here.

Read: 9,000 families to lose one-parent payment from today>

Read: What counties have the highest number of people on rent allowance?>

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