Retailers support call to bring back ‘Christmas bonus’ payment

NGOs and TDs say it would boost economy and alleviate poverty at Christmas

Retailers are supporting calls for the restoration of the Christmas bonus to social welfare recipients

Retailers are supporting calls for the restoration of the Christmas bonus to social welfare recipients

 

Retailers are supporting calls for the restoration of the Christmas bonus to social welfare recipients.

A number of TDs and non-governmental organisations have called for the payment to be restored, saying it would be a “dividend to the most vulnerable in our society” as Ireland exited the EU-IMF bailout and a “welcome boost for the struggling retail sector”.

It would mean an injection of €260 million into the economy in the run-up to Christmas and immediate financial help for 1.3 million people.

The Christmas bonus, paid to long-term recipients of social welfare each December, was worth 100 per cent of their welfare payment. It was abolished in 2009.

Age Action, the Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed, Focus Ireland, lone-parent group Open, the National Women’s Council of Ireland and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions yesterday called on Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton to restore the payment.

‘Solidarity payment’
Frances Byrne, chief executive of Open, said it was impossible to overestimate how important it would be in the alleviation of stress and deprivation in families at Christmas. “I have heard this called a ‘solidarity payment’. That is what it would be.”

TDs supporting the campaign are Patrick Nulty, John Halligan, Tommy Broughan and Thomas Pringle.

Tara Buckley, director general of RGdata which represents over 4,000 retail and grocery outlets, said the group would “absolutely support” the restoration of the bonus. “Especially if it is spent in Irish shops on Irish products. Retailers really need Christmas this year.”

A spokeswoman for the department said: “It will not be possible to reintroduce a bonus payment at this time.”