Increase current social welfare rates by €20
Social Justice Ireland is proposing a €20 increase in core social welfare payments in Budget 2023 as part of a suite of targeted measures to support households on fixed incomes and also calling for the equalisation of Jobseeker’s rates for young people under 25, and the introduction a cost of disability allowance in Budget 2023. A €20 increase in core social welfare rates would set Government on the correct path to benchmark social welfare rates to 27.5 per cent average weekly earnings over a two-year period, which was the standard set in 2007. Meeting this benchmark is a crucial first step in addressing income adequacy challenges for people dependent on social welfare.
The rapid increase in prices that emerged from mid-2021 poses particular challenges for low-income households throughout Ireland. These households spend a greater proportion of their income compared to better off households, they are more exposed to price increases. If Budget 2023 is to be a successful Cost of Living Budget it will need to focus its attention on those in society who need the greatest assistance with making ends meet given the significant and ongoing challenges we face.
A lesson from past experiences of economic recovery and growth is that the weakest in our society get left behind unless welfare increases track increases elsewhere in the economy. Even after the provision of social welfare payments, in 2021 (the latest data available) there were more than 580,000 people in Ireland living below the poverty line. Of these over 163,000 were aged under 18. The benchmark of 27.5 per cent of average earnings is so important to the living standards of many in Irish society, and to meeting our own anti-poverty commitments.
Government should commit to this benchmark in Budget 2023 and increase core social welfare rates by €20.
Summary of Social Justice Ireland proposals:
Minimum Social Welfare rates: A social welfare payment must provide an adequate safety net to lift people out of poverty. This is even more critical in light of increases to essentials such as rent, energy and heating costs, the risks to food security. As a start Budget 2023 should increase minimum core social welfare rates by €20 per week.
Indexation: Social Justice Ireland supports the indexation of minimum social welfare payments to ensure recipients do not fall behind the rest of society. Government should commit to benchmarking core social welfare rates to 27.5 per cent of average earnings over two years, beginning in Budget 2023.
State Pension contributory and non-contributory: Introduce a single-rate universal state social welfare pension from January 2023 at the rate of €273.30.
Fuel Allowance: Extend the fuel allowance to 32 weeks.
Carer’s Support Grant: Increase the annual Carer’s Support Grant to €2,000 and extend the Carers GP Visit Card to those in receipt of Carer’s Support Grant.
Domiciliary Care Allowance: Increase the domiciliary care allowance to €330. Expand the Free Travel Scheme to include people in receipt of the Domiciliary Care Allowance.
Jobseeker's rates – under 25: Continue the process started in Budget 2020 and equalise Jobseeker's rates for all those under 25 at the increased rate of €228 per week.
Cost of Disability: Introduce a cost of disability payment of €20 per week.
Budget Choices 2023 is available to download now.