For many people the budget will have left a sense of disappointment. The Government were (and are) in a strong financial position with a projected surplus in public spending and considerable income from revenue through taxes.
A key ask in the ISCP Budget Submission was the need to address the lack of a secure income for those on State Pension and to have Government’s commitment to link State Pension to the average Industrial Wage honoured. This did not happen in this Budget but we welcome the commitment as referenced by Minister Joe O Brien to review the State Pension and link it to a percentage of the average industrial wage.
Below is a summary of some of the areas affected by Budget 2023:
Key payments for Pensioners
€12 increase in the maximum weekly rate of all state pensions & proportionate increase for qualified adults & people receiving a reduced rate. Effective from Jan 2023.
New Means Test disregard for Fuel allowance for people over 70 (€500-single; €1,000 couple).
Normal Means assessment threshold for Fuel Allowance increases from €120 to €200. Effective from Jan 2023.
Autumn Cost of Living Double Pension Payment paid to all starting week of 17th October.
€200 Lump sum payment payable to those already receiving the Living Alone Allowance.
Christmas Bonus Double payment in December.
Support for Carers
Cost of Living Double payment to carers in October
€500 Cost of Living payment for people receiving Carer Support Grant
Christmas bonus double payment
€12 increase in maximum rate of Carer’s Allowance/Benefit. Proportionate increase for people receiving a reduced rate. Effective from Jan 2023
Qualified Child Payments in weekly rates will increase by €2 in Jan 2023 (€50 for over 12 and €42 for under 12 yrs)
Means Assessment for Fuel Allowance to change from €120 to €200 from Jan 2023
Half rate Carers Allowance will be disregarded in the Means Assessment for Fuel Allowance
Support for people with Disabilities
Special €500 cost of living disability support grant for those in receipt of long-term Disability Payments (Nov 2022)
€200 lump sum payment for people receiving a disability allowance and living alone
€400 lump sum fuel allowance payment
Christmas Bonus Double payment
Domiciliary Care Allowance will increase by €20.50 to €330 per month (Jan 2023)
Disablement Benefit will be disregarded in the means assessment for Fuel Allowance
Earnings Disregard for Disability Allowance and Blind Pension will be increased from €140 to €165 (Jan 2023)
Means Assessment threshold for Fuel Allowance will increase from €120 to €200 (Jan 2023)
We welcome the one-off payments and supports relating to electricity, as they offer some much needed albeit short-term support to people. While the €12 increase in State Pension is an improvement on past years, it will not meet the need for a guaranteed income that keeps people living above the poverty line. This is a serious concern as some economists are projecting, we will be looking at inflation running at 10% or over in early 2023.
In a meeting with the Dept of Social Protection post Budget we asked when the eligibility criteria for various supports; medical cards etc to match this increase will be addressed. We were assured this is currently being worked on.