The Department of Social Protection has said provisional figures for 2012 show the amount spent on jobseekers' payments was €3.8bn.

That is €100m less than the amount paid out the previous year.

This is attributed to a number of factors, including employment support schemes such as JobBridge, which was introduced by Minister Joan Burton in 2011.

By the end of 2012 just over 1,800 unemployed people who did not take part in back-to-work schemes had their personal payment cut by 23%.

The annual report shows that the department's overall spending in 2012 was €20.7bn.

It also shows that almost 2.3m people benefitted from a weekly Social Welfare payment last year.

It compares to 2.2m people in 2011.

Almost 1.5m people were in receipt of a payment, but when adults and children were included almost 2.3m people benefitted.

Around 600,000 families receive child benefit payments in respect of over 1.2m children.

Last year, 2m applications for social welfare schemes and services were processed.

Over 1m control reviews were also carried out.

PPS numbers were also allocated to customers from over 180 countries.