Tánaiste publishes Social Welfare Bill 2015


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 Tánaiste publishes Social Welfare Bill 2015
Bill gives effect to Child Benefit, Pension and Carer’s Support Grant increases

The Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton T.D., has today (Friday, 23 October 2015) published the Social Welfare Bill 2015 following approval by Government.
 
The Bill will give effect to a number of social protection measures announced in Budget 2016 which relate to statutory schemes and can only be implemented by way of primary legislation.

The main measures of the Bill are:-

  • An increase in the monthly rate of Child Benefit to €140 from January 2016;
  • An increase of €3 in the weekly pension for pensioners and carers aged 66 years and over;
  • An increase of €2 for adult dependants aged under 66 years and an increase of €2.70 for adult dependants aged 66 years or over;
  • The name of the Respite Care Grant scheme is to be changed to Carer’s Support Grant.  The rate of the grant is to be increased by €325 to €1,700 from 1 June 2016;
  • Carer’s Allowance will be paid for 12 weeks (currently 6 weeks) from January 2016, after the death of the person being cared for;
  • An increase of €5 per week in the Family Income Supplement income thresholds for families with one child and €10 per week in thresholds for families of two or more children;
  • A new tapered PRSI Credit for employees insured Class A whose earnings are between €352.01 and €424 in a week;
  • The lower 8.5% Class A rate of employer PRSI will apply to weekly earnings up to €376 (up from €356) with effect from 1 January.

Separate to the Bill, the Tánaiste will make regulations in the coming weeks to provide for the 75% Christmas Bonus which will be paid during the first week of December.  She will also make regulations to provide for an increase in the earnings disregard for Jobseeker’s Transition Payment from €60 to €90 per week.  This improved disregard will apply to existing and new recipients from January.  All earnings above €90 will be assessed at 50% from January – they are currently assessed at 60%.

The Tánaiste said that the purpose of Budget 2016 was to improve the lives and the living standards of every family in the country.   “The Government is driving a strong economic recovery and my priority is to make sure that every household benefits. Last year with limited resources, we were able to introduce a Budget that began the process of raising living standards and re-investing in our communities.  We’re building on that progress this year and the welfare charges will particularly help low and middle-income families, retired people and vulnerable groups.”

The Tánaiste said that she was particularly pleased to provide an above-inflation increase of €3 a week for pensioners aged 66 and over: “This is the first weekly rate increase for pensioners since 2009.  In the years since then, many pensioners have supported their adult children and their families throughout very difficult times. They deserve to see their income in retirement increase now that we have some room to do so.

On the Christmas Bonus, the Tánaiste said that it will benefit older people, carers, people with disabilities, long-term jobseekers and lone parents at a financially stressful time of year.  Some 1.23 million people will receive the Christmas Bonus this year at a cost of €197 million. She added: “The Christmas Bonus is spent within the local economy.  It provides a boost not only for the individuals and families who receive it, but also for local businesses and the community.”
 
The Minister of State, Kevin Humphreys T.D., welcomed the Budget measures that will help people in employment.  He said: “The Department of Social Protection is now actively involved in helping jobseekers find work as well as working closely with employers in every region of the country in sourcing recruits for their businesses.  The new tapered PRSI Credit for Class A PRSI employees earning between €352.01 and €424 in a week will reduce the weekly PRSI bill for over 88,000 employees and will be in addition to the gains from the USC changes announced on Budget day.  In addition the lower 8.5% Class A rate of employer PRSI will be extended to over 26,000 employers with the employer threshold being increased from €356 to €376. 

“The Family Income Supplement threshold is also being increased by €5 for each of the first two children per week from January.  This will give an additional €3 or €6 per week for low-income working families in receipt of this support.  Similarly, I am pleased to have secured the increase in top-up payments for jobseekers availing of Community Employment, Rural Social Scheme, Job Initiative and other such schemes.“

The introduction of a Paternity Benefit scheme was also announced in the Budget and is to take effect next September.  As this measure will first require legislation from the Department of Justice and Equality in relation to the creation of paternity leave entitlements and subsequent legislation from the Department of Social Protection, it is not included in this Bill.

ENDS

Appendix

Payments due to be increased in January 2016

  • Child Benefit – 632,000 families (in respect of 1.19 million children) to benefit from increase of €5 per week per child at a cost of €72 million in 2016
  • Pensioners and Carers aged 66 and over to get €3 increase per week with proportionate increases for adult dependants.  Some 583,000 welfare recipients to benefit at a cost of €93 million in 2016
  • Carer’s Support Grant (previously known as Respite Care Grant) to be paid at €1,700 to 86,000 carers at a cost of €30 million in 2016.
  • Increase in Family Income Supplement thresholds - over 59,000 families to benefit. 
  • New tapered PRSI Credit for employees insured at Class A whose earnings are between €352.01 and €424 in a week – 88,000 employees to benefit
  • The lower 8.5% Class A rate of employer PRSI to apply to weekly earnings up to €376 – 26,000 employers to benefit

The Bill is available to view on http://www.welfare.ie/en/Pages/Bills-2015.aspx and    www.oireachtas.ie.

Last modified:23/10/2015