Welfare paid to nearly half of population
ALMOST half of the population is now receiving a social welfare payment.
And the cost is continuing to spiral, as more people join the ranks of the long-term unemployed.
Last year, there was a 40pc increase in the amount of money paid out for Jobseeker's Allowance.
But child benefit payments actually fell, partly due to a crackdown on bogus claimants.
Figures from the Department of Social Protection show that €20.8bn, one-third of all money spent by the State last year, went to welfare recipients.
In contrast, €13.5bn was spent in 2006 at the height of the boom.
Pensions and other payments to older people made up 22pc of money paid out last year, just under 20pc of payments were made to the unemployed and 12.7pc went on child supports.
Jobseeker's Allowance rose by €805m to €2.8bn last year.
Meanwhile, a department spokesperson has denied there are plans to cut unemployment benefit or other welfare payments next year.