Social welfare spending: Extra €12 a week for individuals and €200-€500 lump sums

Budget 2023: Fuel allowance recipients will get a once-off lump sum of €400 and the threshold to qualify for the allowance will increase

Increases in core social welfare rates of €12 per week, plus a range of one-off payments to households across the State, are at the centre of a €2.2 billion social welfare package — the largest in the history of the State.

Setting out details of her department’s budgetary changes, Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys said, however, it would not meet the needs of everyone and did not represent all that she would have liked to have delivered.

She knew many people were “looking ahead nervously to the winter” and her aim was to cushion them as best her department could.

As well as the €12 increases, there will be double payments in weekly benefits to working-age adults as well as pensioners in October, another double payment by way of the Christmas “bonus” in early December, and a range of lump-sum payments of between €200 and €500 payable before Christmas.


These include a €200 lump sum to recipients of the living alone allowance; a €500 payment to those receiving disability allowance, invalidity pension or blind person’s pension; a €500 lump sum to low-income families with children in receipt of the working family payment; a €500 payment to carer’s allowance recipients; and a €400 lump sum to those who get the fuel allowance.

There will be three €200 electricity payments to help with those bills between now and February.

Announcing the largest-ever expansion in the fuel allowance scheme, Ms Humphries said: “We all have parents and grannies and grandads that we think the world of, and one thing I do not want to see as Minister is any old person sitting in their home afraid to turn on the heat.”

A new means test for fuel allowance, for those over 70, will mean a single person can have an income of up to €500 a week and qualify for the scheme, while couples can have an income of up to €1,000 a week. This will take effect in January and bring an estimated 60,000 to 70,000 older-person households into the scheme. Other changes to qualifying criteria will bring an additional 20,000 into the scheme, the Minister said.

Further changes, aimed at families and children, include a €2 a week increase to the qualified child payment which is paid in respect of children of adults on social welfare payments — to €42 for under-12s and €50 for those aged 12 and older. There will be a double payment of the monthly child benefit, worth €140 per child, in November.

The domiciliary care allowance will go up from €309.50 to €330 a month.

Ms Humphreys said the country was “in extraordinary times” and an “extraordinary response” was required.

“Even with that unprecedented level of intervention it is still not possible to meet every demand or do everything we would wish to do,” she said. “As a Government we are doing as much as we possibly can and I believe this is a fair and balanced budget package that will significantly ease the financial pressures faced by households throughout the country.”

Minister of State for Community Development Joe O’Brien said his priorities were increasing the qualified child payment, and additional supports to those in receipt of the working family payment, and he welcomed these measures. He announced plans for a pilot project to tackle the root causes of food poverty.

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland is Social Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times