Several Social Welfare payment increases are set to take effect in January as part of measures introduced in the Budget. 

Heather Humphreys , the Minister of Social Protection, Community and Rural Development and the Islands said the social welfare rate increases will benefit the most vulnerable members of our society.

"Despite what has been a challenging year for many, I am delighted to have secured this increase in spending to help welcome in the year 2021 and, hopefully, better days ahead," the Minister said. 

From January, payments for qualified child dependants will increase by €5 for children aged 12 or over and €2 for children aged up to 12.

This means that parents on weekly social welfare payments will see an increase in their weekly rate of payment.

The increases will take effect at various dates in January depending on the weekly welfare payment that either parent is receiving and it expected the increase will benefit about 419,000 children at a cost of €59.2m in 2021. 

The Fuel Allowance payment is also increasing by €3.50 to €28.00 per week with effect from January and in total, the increase will cost €36.8m in 2021.

Over 375,000 households will benefit from this rate change which helps many people with the cost of heating their homes during the winter months. 

People who are already getting the Fuel Allowance will see the increase during the week starting on January 4. The days will vary, depending on the payment that the customer is receiving.

This measure will cost €36.8m in 2021, the Department of Social Welfare has estimated.

Meanwhile, the Island Allowance, which is paid to about 600 people living on certain offshore islands, will increase by €7.30 to €20 a week from January 4. 

This is the first time that the Island Allowance has been increased since it was introduced in 2000. 

The Working Family Payment will have its weekly income threshold increased by €10 for families with up to three children from the first week of January.  This will benefit some 48,700 families who are on a low income at a cost of €21.4m next year.

Separately, the Widowed or Surviving Civil Partner Grant, which assists widows, widowers and surviving civil partners with children after the death of their partner, is increasing from €6,000 to €8,000 with effect from January 1.  This increase is estimated at €2.2m for the year

"The Pandemic Unemployment Payment has understandably received much public attention over the past year but it is also important to remember that many individuals and families in every county receive a weekly social welfare payment including pensions, One-Parent Family payments and disability payments," Heather Humphreys stated.