THE Department of Social Protection needs another €685m to cover its costs for 2012.
This enormous deficit could escalate further, bringing the total extra needed to €750m.
Minister Joan Burton (pictured) revealed the massive shortfall to cover 2012 expenditure yesterday. The Government will have to find the extra cash from underspending in other departments.
Most of the money is needed because of a shortfall in PRSI contributions, which means the Exchequer will have to give €418m more to the social insurance fund. An extra €235m is needed because the numbers signing on the Live Register is higher than anticipated.
The average on the Live Register during 2012 will be 437,300, 12,000 more a month than was budgeted for.
The department's total spending is expected to be €20.77bn this year, €228m more than provided for.
Ms Burton said the scale of the shortfall had only become apparent this week when PRSI payments made by the self-employed in November were counted. Total PRSI income was estimated to be €6.63bn for the year, €454m less than predicted.
Spending on PRSI schemes would be €8.87bn – €36m less than estimated – meaning the Exchequer subvention would now be €2.23bn higher than planned. Spending on jobseekers' allowance had gone €271m over budget, but jobseekers' benefit – paid when workers are first made unemployed – was €36m lower than planned as fewer people had lost their jobs.
Administration costs were down by 2.5pc to €585m while spending on pensions is up €28m to €6.28bn. The cost of funding pensions is €780m higher than four years ago and will grow by €200m in 2013.
The Department of Finance said it has factored this supplementary estimate for social welfare into its projected spending figures for 2012.