A €200 lump sum social welfare payment for those in long-term unemployment, along with a once off child benefit payment of €100 will be paid out as part of cost-of-living measures agreed by coalition leaders on Monday evening.
The measures were formally announced this lunchtime by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Tanaiste Micheal Martin and Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan.
Those on social welfare, pensioners, carers, those on disability and working family payments, single parents, and those who receive the widow’s pension will receive the €200 lump sum. Additionally, those who are in receipt of the Back to School clothing and footwear allowance will receive an extra €100.
Those in receipt of long-term unemployment benefits, families, carers, and those running small businesses or in the hospitality sector are set to welcome the measures to be announced today under the Government’s latest cost of living crisis package.
Senior Government figures and civil servants met in Dublin this morning to formally approve the package – which will include an immediate 100 euro to be paid out to every Irish family to help with the escalating costs of childcare and household bills. An additional €100 will be paid out to all families in August.
The total cost of the package, which was formally announced at lunchtime today, is said to be over €400 million. Tax receipts currently being collected are anticipated to go a “large way” of footing the bill.
This will include a sum of €122 million for the additional child benefit payment and €265 million for the lump sum to social welfare recipients. In addition, the expansion of the Hot School Meals Programme in Primary Schools, agreed by Minister Heather Humphries, will cost €27 million.
It was announced today that excise on fuel has been delayed until June 2023, and will rise on a phased basis following that. Meanwhile, the 9% VAT on electricity and gas has been extended until October 2023 to try and take some pressure off households.
Going into the summer, there will be no €200 energy credit, with the final one announced in 2022 to take effect on bills next month. The possibility of bringing back energy credits will be raised again ahead of the September budget, Ministers said.
Responding to today’s announcement, national charity Saint Vincent de Paul (SVP) said that while temporary supports in the €400 million package were welcome, they were not going to be sufficient for households in crisis.
The charity, which works on the ground with many Irish families struggling to make ends meet, said that increasing core social welfare rates would have had a greater impact.
“This would be in ensuring those on the lowest incomes are not pulled further into poverty,” the charity said as it welcomed the €100 extra for the Back-to-School Clothing and Footwear Allowance, along with the expansion of the school meals programme at a time when an increasing number of Irish families are using food banks.
SVP, which received a record number of calls for assistance in 2022, said that social welfare rates should have been increased, along with the Qualified Child Increase (QCI) to help with the accelerating cost of raising children. The national charity also said the Fuel Allowance Scheme to families in receipt of the Working Family Payment.
It comes as Taoiseach Leo Varadkar attracted controversy after he appeared to cast doubt on a survey carried out by the charity Barnardo’s which found that 10% of Irish families are now using food banks.
Speaking on his way into Cabinet last week, Varadkar said he would “wonder about the scientific basis” of the survey which was published by the children’s charity last week.
The research, conducted by Coyne Research, showed that nearly one-third of Irish parents have skipped meals or reduced portion sizes to feed their children. It also recorded the number of families who have used a food bank doubling since last year. A nationally representative sample of 1,000 adults were interviewed for the survey last October.