Wednesday 29 January 2020

Some OAPs are in line for a quadruple boost next year from pension and other changes

Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar Photo: Damien Eagers
Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar Photo: Damien Eagers
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

Some pensioners could be in line for a quadruple boost to their incomes next year. Pensioners were among the big winners in the Budget.

They are set to get an extra €5 a week in the State pension from next March, although there is as yet no certainty about when exactly this increase will become effective.

Those with a full contributory pension will enjoy an increase from up to €233 to €238 a week, while those on the means-tested non-contributory pension of up to €222 will get €227. Those over the age of 80 already get an extra €10 a week.

This is the second time the pension has been increased since 2009, following a €3 increase in the last Budget.

The pension boost is part of a package of across-the-board social welfare hikes that are the centrepiece of the Department of Social Protection's €301m budget for next year.

Groups that work with older people have welcomed the €5 increase in the State pension as a step towards ending "income inequality".

However, Age Action said it was disappointed that the increase had been delayed until March.

It said: "Delaying it to the start of March is going to disappoint many older people who will lose out during some of the coldest months of the year."

Some 330,000 people over 70 will benefit from a cut in prescription costs. The measure will see the prescription per item charge for this age group reduced from €2.50 to €2.

And from March, the monthly limit on what they pay will be €20.

This will come as a relief to elderly people who are on medications for several conditions but dependent on the State pension.

The Christmas bonus will be higher this year. It was announced that 85pc of the bonus will be paid, in a move that Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar said would benefit 1.2 million people receiving benefits.

Pensioners with a pension from the public service are also in line for an income hike. From January, some 90,000 retired public service pensioners are set to benefit from another restoration of some of the reductions.

A Department of Public Expenditure and Reform spokesman said there was a gain of €400 each on average last year when some of the cuts were restored. The gain this January will average €500.

And in January 2018, all who had a pension of over €34,132 and were hit by pensions cuts will be fully restored to their original payments.

Pensioners with a private pension will gain from the budget cuts to the universal social charge (USC).

All weekly social welfare payments will rise by €5 for benefit recipients including carers, the blind, widows, the disabled, lone parents, jobseekers and people on community employment schemes.

Unemployed people under 26 will get smaller increases ranging from €2.70 to €3.80, depending on age, and €5 has been added to the one-parent family payment.

Some 1.5 million people will gain from the rises in weekly payments.

And families will be able to leave larger estates to their children as a result of changes to inheritance tax.

There is also a larger threshold for nephews, nieces, sisters and brothers who are inheriting.

Dirt tax on savings is also coming down, but there has been no cut to the 41pc exit tax on savings products bought from an insurance company. Mr Noonan increased the group A threshold by €30,000. He said he would revisit the thresholds in the coming years with view to increasing them further.

Irish Independent

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