A recently published bill which gives effect to Budget 2023 measures will help individuals and families in Westmeath with increased payments according to local Fine Gael Minister of State, Deputy Peter Burke.
Deputy Burke said the Social Welfare Bill 2022, which begins its passage through Dáil Eireann this week, introduces over €1billion in Social Welfare improvements in 2023 and gives effect to a wide range of Budget measures.
“Fine Gael is determined to put money back in people’s pockets and assist them with the rising cost of living. When passed, this Bill will deliver the largest Social Protection package in the history of the State. Fine Gael is committed to putting more money in your pocket by cutting tax, increasing pension payments, and raising welfare payments for families, people with disabilities, pensioners and carers.
“My colleague Minister Heather Humphreys recently delivered the largest social protection Budget in the history of the state, which provides for a range of supports for pensioners, carers, people with disabilities and low income families in Westmeath.
“The main provisions in this week’s Bill apply across-the-board increases in weekly payments to pensioners, people with disabilities, carers and lone parents. The Bill includes measures to expand the Working Family Payment to more households and changes to the Means Test for the Farm Assist Payment.
Among the measures included in the Bill are:
€12 increase in the maximum rate of all core weekly payments
Working Family Payment thresholds to increase by €40 per week for all family sizes;
An increase of €20.50 in the monthly rate of Domiciliary Care Allowance bringing the payment to €330 per month. This is the first increase since 2009 for people who play a valuable and difficult role in Irish society – parents or guardians who look after a child with a severe disability;
€2 increase in payments in respect of children of social welfare recipients, bringing the payment to €42 per week for children under 12 and €50 per week for children aged 12 and over;
Farm Assist, Jobseeker’s Allowance, and State Non-Contributory Pension – a doubling in the amount of income that can be derived from agri-environmental schemes (e.g., Glas, ACRES ) and counted in assessing means. As a result of this measure, €5,000 can be disregarded from January;
extend eligibility for participation on Community Employment Schemes to spouses, civil partners or cohabitants of Jobseeker’s Allowance recipients;
Increase in earnings attracting the lower Employer PRSI rate in line with increase in the national minimum wage which should encourage employment especially in the service sector.
“These measures are on top of the eight lump sum payments that Minister Humphreys secured as part of Budget 2023, which amount to €1.2 billion.
“These payments include the Autumn Cost of Living Payment, a double payment of Child Benefit, an additional €400 for Fuel Allowance recipients, an additional €200 for recipients of the Living Alone Allowance, an additional €500 for Working Family Payment recipients, a €500 Lump Sum Disability Payment and a special €500 Carer’s Support Grant which will issue to over 114,000 Carers on this week.
“We know that it is more expensive to do the weekly shop, fuel your car, pay your bills, and make ends meet. That is why we are determined to put more money back into your pockets and assist families with the cost of living,” Deputy Burke concluded.