25 March 2019
By Mary Bermingham
The new increased rate of pensions and weekly social welfare increases introduced in Budget 2019 come into effect this week, North Cork Fine Gael Councillor John Paul O’Shea said. Budget 2019 included €362 million in additional social welfare expenditure, bringing the total social welfare spend to €20.5 billion for the year.
Cllr. O’Shea said: “I am very pleased to see these increases are coming on stream.
“In total, these increases will benefit 100,898 people here in Cork. Fine Gael in Government is doing what we said we would do, using the benefits of our resurgent economy to help those who need it most.
“The maximum personal rate of pension will increase by €5 per week for 66,833 Cork pensioners aged 66 and over from the week commencing 25 March.
“There will also be a €5 increase for weekly welfare recipients including carers, widows, people with disabilities, lone parents, jobseekers, maternity and paternity benefit recipients, farm assist recipients and community employment participants.
On top of 66,833 Cork pensioners, there is also increases for 15,495 recipients of Jobseeker’s Payments (Jobseeker’s Benefit, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Farm Assist), 9,432 recipients of Carer’s Allowance and Carer’s Benefit, 3,692 recipients of One Parent Family Payment, and 5,446 recipients of Working Family Payment.
“We will also see the increases on weekly payments of €2.20 for dependent children aged under 12, and €5.20 for dependent children aged 12 and over, secured by Minister Regina Doherty in the Budget. This will bring the qualified child increases to €34 per week and €37 per week respectively.
“Working lone parents who are receiving the one parent family payment and jobseeker’s transitional payment will now be able to earn an extra €20 per week, up to €150, and keep their full payment. Some 13,200 families will benefit from this which takes effect from next week.
“People receiving the Working Family Payment in receipt of maintenance will benefit from a new disregard of €95 per week in respect of housing costs.
“The weekly fuel allowance of €22.50 is being extended by one week this year until 12 April. Some 373,800 households across the country will benefit,” Cllr. O’Shea said.
Ahead of the increases, Minister Doherty said: “The increases – which will begin to kick in over the next few days – will benefit a wide variety of people throughout the country. Old, young, widows, single parents, farmers, those with a disability and those searching for work – up to 1.5 million people stand to benefit in communities throughout Ireland. These increases are part of the continuing incremental work I began last year and are allowing us to restore supports after a lost decade of cuts.
“Furthermore, some of these increases allow us to target resources where they are best placed to really help our most vulnerable citizens – particularly children. So, as well as a five euro increase in most allowances, I am also providing for increases in the payment for qualified children – including a significant increase for children aged 12 and over.
“Over 330,000 children will benefit from these increases. As we finalise our new national anti-poverty strategy – which will be launched in the coming weeks – I hope to build on this work to create a country which creates opportunity and support for all,” Minister Doherty said.
Free GP care will also be expanded to an additional 100,000 people (as we are raising the income threshold for GP visit cards.) Visit www.mymedicalcard.ie to assess your eligibility. The prescription charge is also being reduced by 50c for those aged 70 and over.
As part of Slaintecare, we must reduce the cost of healthcare. These measures will help ensure healthcare is affordable to those who need it.
From April, the threshold for the monthly Drugs Payment Scheme threshold will be reduced by €10. Your family will pay no more than €124 a month for approved drugs and medicines. You can apply at mydps.ie or through your Local Health Office.