Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Social Protection Willie O’Dea has called on Minister Leo Varadkar to clarify the prospects for the payment of a Christmas social welfare bonus this year. His comments follow the publication of the revised public expenditure estimates for 2016. No provision for the payment of the Christmas bonus was made in the estimates.
The Christmas Bonus is generally paid during the first week of December and covers long term social welfare recipients. A one off 50% additional payment would be worth €117 to a single pensioner and €94 to a recipient of long term Jobseekers Allowance, and would cost the state €133m. A full 100% bonus would be worth €234 to a pensioner and €188 to a recipient of working age at a total cost of €267 million.
Deputy O’Dea commented, “Minister Varadkar confirmed to Fianna Fáil this week that the recently published revised estimates for 2016 do not contain a provision for the payment of a Christmas social welfare bonus. This is disappointing given the Government took the opportunity in the revised estimates to deal with the under-funding issue they created in the health service.
“The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe has indicated that under new fiscal rules any supplementary estimates needed to meet unplanned additional spending must be funded through expenditure savings and efficiencies elsewhere, or via discretionary revenue measures. This puts considerable limits on the ability to facilitate the payment of the Christmas bonus later in the year.
“Families and individuals in receipt of long term social welfare supports need this payment to meet the additional costs of Christmas expenditure. It’s vital that they feel the benefit of a growing economy and improving public finances.
“It’s important that Minister Varadkar sets out clearly the circumstances which will determine whether or not the payment will be made this year. He needs to put a strong case to his cabinet colleagues to ensure the payment is made.”