Jobless to get €5-a-week dole boost - but young set for hike of just €2.70
THE unemployed are set for a €5 hike in their dole payments - but the Government is under fire for giving young people just €2.70 a week.
More than 840,000 people will benefit from the first increase in weekly social welfare payments since 2009.
Pensioners, carers, people with disabilities, widows, and lone parents will see their payments rise.
Groups for the unemployed and unions welcomed the increase in Jobseeker's Allowance, which will rise from €188 to €193.
But for those aged 18 to 24, the rate will rise by just €2.70 from €100 to €102.70. For those aged 25, it will increase by €3.80 from €144 to €147.80.
However, young people on reduced benefits will pay less towards the cost of their rent supplement. For example, the contribution made by those on the €144 or €160 rate will fall from €30 to €20.
And from next September, those participating in the back to education scheme will get the full adult rate of €193 a week. The current rate is €160 a week.
"It must be remembered that Jobseeker's Allowance is a means-tested payment, and that people do not receive €100 unless they fully meet the criteria," said Brid O'Brien, head of policy with the Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed.
"So, we are talking about young people who themselves or whose family have few other means.
"It is disappointing that nothing was done in this Budget to address this inequality, and unacceptable that the €5 increase other people of working age will enjoy will be 'proportional' for Jobseeker's Allowance recipients who are aged under 26 years of age and other recipients on reduced rates."
She said it is welcome that payments will rise by €5 per week, although it would be even more welcome if it began from January next year, the traditional starting point for such changes.
She said it is the first increase to these payments since Budget 2009, when the maximum adult payment was €204.30.
A new yearly €500 cost-of-education allowance is being set up for parents, including lone parents, who already get a back-to-education allowance.
In addition, 380,000 self-employed people will have new benefits extended to them, including free eye and dental tests for the first time.
The self-employed will also have access to State income supports if they have a serious illness or injury that prevents them working, which will not be means tested.
Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar said the across-the-board increase is the first given to welfare recipients since Fianna Fáil cut rates by €16 a week during the crash. He said it will benefit a total of 1.49 million people.
He said the increases will apply from March. "To do otherwise would have required the exclusion of certain groups, which could not be countenanced," he said.