The European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN) has called on the Government to commit to benchmarking social welfare rates against the cost of living.
Welcoming this week’s budget, the group said that welfare increases still fall further behind the cost of living.
Some of the main points of the budget are:
– A €5 increase to all core weekly payments including pensioners, widow(ers), lone parents, job seekers, carers, people with disabilities and those on employment programmes;
– Increases for children on all weekly payments including €3 for qualified child aged 12 and over, and €2 increase for qualified child dependents up to age 12;
– Increase of €5 per week to fuel allowance, with the weekly means threshold increasing by €20 to €120 and changes to criteria allowing more people to qualify for the allowance;
– Increase of €3 a week to Living Alone Allowance;
– The means-test for carers will be broadened to enable couples with a weekly income of up to €750, and single people with an income of €350, to receive the Carers Allowance;
Paul Ginnell Director of EAPN Ireland said: “Research over the years has helped us to understand the level of income households need to have a decent life, and the current inadequacy experienced by many households. The announcements made as part of today’s budget provide the Government with an opportunity to move towards income adequacy for all households including those on social welfare.
“We believe the Government must now develop social welfare policies that will help to lift people above the poverty line and ensure people can achieve a minimum essential standard of living,” he said.