This week will see social welfare customers in Longford begin to receive an increase in their weekly welfare payments, provided for in Budget 2018, with all increases being in place by Friday, March 30.
According to the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, there will be a €5 increase in the maximum rate of all weekly payments for pensioners, lone parents, jobseekers, carers, people with disabilities, widows, and people on employment programmes.
Younger jobseekers aged 26 or younger who are on reduced rates, most of whom are living with their families, will receive the full €5 increase.
Customers receiving reduced rate payments each week and dependent adults will receive proportionate increases. A €2 increase for each qualified dependent child will be made in all weekly payments – the first such increase since 2010.
Age Action, Ireland’s leading advocacy organisation for older people, has welcomed the increases in the State Pension which will take effect this week.
The top rate of the State contributory pension will rise by €5 to €243.30 and the non-contributory pension will rise by the same amount to €232.
Justin Moran, Head of Advocacy and Communications with Age Action, said: “This week’s pension increase may be small but it is certainly welcome and particularly so for the tens of thousands of pensioners who rely entirely on the State Pension for their income.
“They are coming under enormous pressure from steadily increasing energy and health costs and the pension increase is a badly needed source of additional funds.”
However, the organisation is disappointed about the timing of the increases and pointed out not all pensioners will benefit equally.
Moran continued: “This is the second year in a row the pension increase has taken place in March instead of January.
“It is disappointing that in the coldest months of the year the extra money wasn’t available to help pensioners stay warm and we hope any increase next year will take effect from the start of 2019.
“It should also be remembered that not every pensioner will get the €5 increase. Pensioners on the lower rates, including many who are on those rates because of time spent caring for their families, will only receive a proportion of the €5 increase.”
Also this week, the weekly income thresholds for the Working Family Payment will increase by €10 per week for families with up to three children.
This is designed to increase the take-home pay of Working Family Payment recipients and help more working families qualify for this important income support.
The income disregard for One-Parent Family Payment and Jobseeker’s Transition recipients will increase, by €20 to €130 per week, again to help improve incomes for working lone-parents and those moving from unemployment to employment.
The Department also operates a number of non-statutory schemes, mostly in relation to employment and education supports.
The weekly rate increases for these schemes will also apply over the course of the week commencing Monday, March 26.