Social welfare increases to come into effect in early March

Leo Varadkar confirms the changes to benefits will be implemented from March 10th

Increases in social welfare will be implemented from the second week in March, Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar has confirmed.

Mr Varadkar said the €5 increase in the State pension would be introduced from March 10th, with the other changes implemented in the following days.

The Minister said: “The Government will implement the increases as early as resources allow.

“The Social Welfare Bill . . . provides for the increases to come into effect from the second week of March.

“This will commence with the payment of the €5 increase for pensions on March 10th, with the remaining increases being applied to other benefits over the following six days, as the payments for individual benefits fall due in accordance with the payment calendar.”

The date of payment of the benefit increases was a point of contention between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil during the Budget 2017 negotiations.

Fianna Fáil had requested all of the increases be implemented from January 1st, but Mr Varadkar said that would cost too much money.

He said that bringing the increases forward to the beginning of the year would jeopardise other programmes.

Mr Varadkar said: “We originally thought it would be June or even May or April [before the increases came in], so I think the fact that we can bring it forward to the 10th of March is good progress.”

Jobseeker’s allowance

The Minister also confirmed there would be no further changes to the jobseeker’s allowance for under-26s.

Mr Varadkar announced a €2.70 increase in the payment in the budget.

However, he has come under pressure to sync it to the €5 hike in other benefits.

Speaking to journalists, he said the Social Welfare Bill to give effect to the benefit increases would not include any changes from what was announced in last month’s budget.