New scheme will give parents two weeks’ paid parental leave - and this will increase to seven weeks

Paschal Donohoe made the announcement today

Anne Marie Walsh

Pensioners and people on social welfare are in line for another €5 a week hike, plus a full Christmas bonus this year.

And parents are set to get two weeks’ paid parental leave while their child is one – and Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe promised this will gradually rise to seven weeks.

The new parental leave scheme will be rolled out in November next year.

In announcing the measure, Mr Donohoe said he is doing it to “support working families and ensure work pays”.

He said the earnings disregard for the One Parent Family Payment will rise, and a maintenance disregard for the Working Family Payment will be brought in.

There will be an increase in the Qualified Child Payment of €2.20 a week for the under-12s and €5.20 a week for over-12s, and a €25 hike in the Back to School Clothing and Footwear rates.

Mr Donohoe said these supports aim to ensure national economic growth translates into a rise in living standards and a fall in poverty, especially for our children.

Meanwhile, 'hard-pressed' parents with an after tax income up to €60,000 are set to qualify for a payment towards childcare worth up to €145 a week.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has confirmed that the threshold for an affordable childhood scheme is being pushed out.

The maximum threshold currently stands at €47,500.

This will mean at least 10,000 more children will be eligible for the payment.

Mr Donohoe said this scheme will make a real difference to the lives of thousands of hard-pressed families and their children.

He said this was not only in terms of accessing childcare but also in terms of encouraging people back into the workplace.