CEO of Social Justice Ireland Dr Sean Healy has said that the threshold to qualify for the Working Family Payment must be increased in tandem with the public sector pay deal.

He warned that if the income limit to qualify for this social welfare payment is not increased, the benefit of a pay rise would be "eroded" for the most vulnerable families in the country.

RTÉ News today asked the Department of Social Protection if a review of the existing income limits to qualify for the social welfare payment has been undertaken in light of the ongoing cost-of-living crisis and the public sector pay talks.

In a statement, it said: "Any change to the income limits of the scheme would have to be considered in the budgetary context."

The department describes the Working Family Payment as an "in-work support which provides an income top-up for employees with children who are on low earnings".

It added that the social welfare payment is "designed to prevent in-work poverty for low paid workers with child dependents and to offer a financial incentive to take-up employment".

Dr Healy told RTÉ News: "It is absolutely essential that these limits be adjusted accordingly otherwise we are going to see an erosion of the situation of some of the lowest paid workers.

"Without an adjustment of the income limits there will be an erosion of the benefit that should be accrued and they are claiming will be accrued.

"There is no question that the Government's priority in all of this, up to and including the Budget, should be to protect the vulnerable."

To qualify for the Working Family Payment, a person must be in employment for at least 38 hours per fortnight and the average total weekly family income must be below the relevant income threshold for the family's size.

The payment is calculated at 60% of the difference between the total family income and the income threshold that applies to the family.

The income threshold increases with the number of children.

The Working Family Payment income limits are currently €551 for one child, €652 for two children, €753 for three children, €844 for four children, €970 for five children, €1,086 for six children, €1,222 for seven children and €1,318 for eight or more children.

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