Budget 2015 will help families back to work, provide extra financial support for children and a range of vulnerable groups, according to Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton.
“Through the Pathways to Work strategy to reduce the Live Register, the Department has placed an unrelenting focus on helping jobseekers return to work, with unemployment down from a crisis peak of 15.1% to 11.1% now. This focus will continue in 2015, and will produce significant savings from reduced jobseeker payments, which produces a number of benefits.
“Firstly, it means that overall welfare spending continues to decrease, contributing to the stabilisation of the public finances. Secondly, it ensures there will be no reductions to any social welfare scheme in 2015. Thirdly, we can use some of the savings to increase payments in certain areas to assist the most vulnerable,” she said.
Main social welfare elements in Budget 2015
Return to Work Initiatives – €1.1 billion to be spent on employment supports
· New Back to Work Family Dividend for lone parent and long-term unemployed families with children who return to work or self-employment, at a cost of €22 million.
· Doubling of JobsPlus places from 3,000 to 6,000, at a cost of €12 million.
· New employment programme, JobPath, established with funding of €12 million.
Families with Children – €2.4 billion to support families with children
· Extra €5 on Child Benefit for each child per month from January to benefit 613,000 families, with a total of €1.97 billion to be paid in Child Benefit in 2015.
· Additional €2 million for the Department’s School Meals Programme.
· Over €349 million will be provided for Family Income Support (FIS).
· Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance and all other supports maintained.
Older People and People with Disabilities – €9.25 billion in supports
· Living Alone Allowance to increase €9.00 per week from January – 177,500 people to benefit.
· Pensioners aged 80 and over will continue to receive an extra €10 per week
· Free Travel Scheme is fully maintained.
· Electricity/Gas Allowance and Free TV Licence are unchanged.
Water Services supports – €66 million to be provided in 2015
· €100 per year (in four quarterly instalments of €25) to be paid to pensioners, people with disabilities and carers receiving a Household Benefits Package.
· €100 per year to be provided to all Fuel Allowance recipients who do not already receive the Household Benefits Package.