The rate of Child Benefit is to be increased by €5 per child from January 2015.

Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin announced that Child Benefit will increase in 2016 by a further €5.

He also said they were increasing the living alone allowance to €9 a week.

The Government will pay the Christmas bonus at a 25% rate this year.

Meanwhile, a new back to work family dividend will be introduced to provide an additional incentive for families to move from welfare to work.

This will allow families to retain the full qualified child increase of €29.80 per week per child for 12 months, after their return to work, and 50% of the payment in the second year. 

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Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton said the ease in pressure on the social budget has allowed her to provide for a partial restoration of the Christmas bonus and rise in Child Benefit.

Speaking on RTÉ's Six One News, she said a lot of pensioners had missed the bonus since it was abolished in 2009.

The value of the improvement in Child Benefit is that it is paid to the caring parent, she said, generally the mother of the children.

She said this is a really important cash flow on to the family table every month and she was anxious to improve it.