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Thursday 28 September 2023 Dublin: 15°C
File image of Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys.
# Budget 2021
How the 2021 Budget will impact social welfare payments
The government released its €17.75 billion Budget package earlier today.

EARLIER TODAY, THE government announced details of the 2021 Budget worth a total of €17.75 billion, the biggest the State has ever seen. 

The main points of the immense plan for how the government will spend, tax and borrow for the next year can be read here. 

Announcing some of the Budget measures today, the Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath said the social welfare system in Ireland has “reduced inequality and poverty”. 

The social welfare package in the Budget is worth a total of €520 million with a wide range of measures announced. 

Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP)

Self-employed people in receipt of the PUP will be able to earn up to €480 per month without losing their payment. The government has indicated that this measure will come into effect soon. 

In a statement, Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys said this measure will “give certainty to those workers in sectors like our taxi industry and our arts and entertainment sectors”.

The PUP is currently due to continue until 1 April next year. 

Asked earlier today whether the PUP could be expended beyond this time, Humphreys said there is “no crystal ball” in the pandemic. 

She said the payment will be reviewed in January and the government will weigh up whether people are still out of work. 

She said this review will also look at the proposed cut to the PUP due in February when it is due to be cut to a maximum of €250 per week. 

As it stands, the PUP is paid on three tiers determined by a person’s weekly income earned before the pandemic.

The highest amount is currently €300 per week and the lowest is €203 per week.  

Reacting to the Budget, Labour’s social protection spokesperson Sean Sherlock slammed the government for failing to restore the cuts to the PUP earlier this year.

He said: “If €350 was good enough in March and April, why is it not good enough now? We were told this government wouldn’t return to austerity. For the tens of thousands of workers who lost their jobs through no fault of their own and who have had their income supports cut, this will be a tough winter.

Christmas bonus 

The one-week Christmas bonus for people on social welfare will this year be given to those who have been in receipt of the payments for four months or more. 

This includes people on the PUP.

The four months do not have to be continuous, meaning the government expects most PUP recipients to avail of this bonus. 

Previously, people needed to have been in receipt of the social welfare payments for 15 months before getting the bonus.

Minister Heather Humphreys said the Christmas bonus will cost the exchequer €350 million this year, compared to €279 million last year.  


Parent’s Benefit will be extended to five weeks for parents. 

This is a benefit on top of parent’s leave for those who have enough PRSI contributions.

Each qualifying parent is currently entitled to parent’s benefit during parent’s leave of two weeks in a row, or two separate weeks of leave in the first year after their child’s birth or adoption. 

Families in receipt of  a weekly benefit for children will see an increase of €2 to €38 per week for children under 12, and a €5 increase to €45 per week for children over 12. 

This will impact over 419,000 children and will take effect from January 2021. 

The €425 income threshold per week for the one-parent family payment will be removed from April 2021. This is a payment for parents raising children without another person. 

Illness benefit

Illness benefit will now be available to those who have been out of work due to sickness for three days, rather than six. 

Other announcements

The State pension age will remain at 66 and a pensions commission will be established. 

The Carer’s Support Grant will increase by €150, from €1,700 to €1,850 per year. This is paid annually in June.

The Living Alone Allowance will increase from €14 to €19 per week.

The Fuel Allowance will increase by €3.50 per week to €28 from January onwards. This is aimed to help those on lower incomes to pay additional energy costs likely to incur due to the carbon tax increase. This will impact more than 375,600 households.  

The widowed or surviving partner grant will see an increase of €2,000, from €6,000 to €8,000. 

The earnings disregard on the Disability Allowance will increase from €120 to €140 per week from June next year. 

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