Tuesday 24 April 2018

Mystery surrounds kick-start date for €5 welfare increase

Enda Kenny arrives to work on Budget Day
Enda Kenny arrives to work on Budget Day
John Downing

John Downing

ONE day on from the Budget – and mystery still surrounds the date when the €5 weekly pension and other welfare increases actually take effect.

Former Public Spending Minister, Brendan Howlin, who helped present the previous five Budgets, wanted to know when in March 2017 the €5 increases begin.

“We worked together for five years and we never published a Budget without figures,” Mr Howlin said.

The Labour leader said “March” was the stated time in the Budget for the increases to begin.  But the spokesman for Social Protection Minister, Leo Varadkar, had conceded that the parties negotiating the Budget could not agree exactly when in March that would happen.

“People are going to want to make their own plans for such a modest increase and they need to know when,” Mr Howlin said.

The Labour leader said if the increase was put off until March 31 it would average out at €3.75 per week. March 1 would amount to a little more and he also appealed for all welfare payments to be linked to inflation.

The Taoiseach said the issue would be dealt with in detail in the social welfare legislation which would be published in the next two weeks by Minister Varadkar.  He said the €5 per week increase was better than linking rates to inflation and it was agreed that all welfare recipients would get this.

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