€30.6 billion was spent on social welfare payments last year, an increase of 46% compared to 2019 - according to new figures from the Department of Social Protection.
A new report published today sets out data relating to the expenditure, recipients and beneficiaries of the schemes administered by the department, including the schemes introduced as part of the Government's emergency response to the Covid-19 Pandemic.
It reveals that €9 billion was spent on Covid supports in 2020.
Over 1.2 million people were supported for at least one week by the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP), the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) or the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS).
Overall, men received 57% of all allocated expenditure across these three schemes.
In 2020, an estimated €5.1 billion was spent on the PUP scheme.
The report shows that Dublin had the highest overall expenditure of any county of €1.6 billion, which accounted for 32% of all PUP expenditure, followed by Cork at €502 million and Galway at €277 million.
The accommodation and food service activities sector had the highest overall expenditure on PUP at €1.2 billion, followed by the wholesale and retail trade sector at €756 million and the construction sector at €505 million.
According to the report, almost 70,000 people received Enhanced Illness Benefit payments, at a cost of €57 million.
"While the hard work involved in processing all of these emergency payments ensured that payments were made promptly, the everyday work of my Department on all other schemes continued as normal," said Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys.
The report reveals that total spending on pensions was €8.5 billion in 2020, representing an annual increase of 3.5%.
Almost 670,000 received a state pension at year end of last year.
Meanwhile, there was €4.7 billion spent on illness, disability and caring payments in 2020, an increase of €264 million or 5.9% compared to 2019.
Carer's Allowance and Disability Allowance accounted for €2.7 billion of this expenditure, recording increases of 7.4% and 6.2% respectively.
The number of recipients on Disability Allowance increased by 5,825 to 152,580 in 2020 - an increase of 4%.
Since 2011, the department said the recipient numbers on this scheme have grown by 48.3%.