Increase social benefits by €20 a week, campaigners demand

The basic rate of social care should be increased by €20 a week, campaign group Social Justice Ireland has argued.

Inflation in the Irish economy was estimated at 9.6% last month and politicians from all parties have worried about the impact on people on fixed incomes.

The 2023 budget is due out at the end of September and Social Justice Ireland hopes the finance minister will increase basic social benefits in line with the soaring cost of living:

“[It’s] a big request of €208 to cover your accommodation costs, your food, your heating, your light, your transport, your haircut, your clothes, your birthday presents, your Christmas presents,” said Susanne Rogers by Social Justice Ireland Newstalk breakfast.

“So €20 a week pretty much covers the rise in inflation we’ve seen this year.

“€17 is needed to stand still, then the extra few pounds would help reduce the extra costs people are having.

“But it would cost €17 more just to put the same basket of goods on the table as this time last year.”

The organization estimates that such an increase would cost the state coffers 878 million euros per year, but maintains that it will result in long-term savings in other areas:

“Inaction will cost money – so we won’t save anything by not doing this,” Ms Rogers continued.

“There will be a cost somewhere down the line for those households that will need to be picked up elsewhere along the line.

“Whether it’s within the healthcare system, whether it’s within the housing system, so €20 a week will allow people on the basic welfare rate to maintain a basic standard of living.”

2BHF2CR Inflation and piggy bank on rocker

She added:

“The Summer Economic Statement shows there is money in the coffers and while the focus should be on capital investment, spending it on social housing, spending it on health and the education system… But again, I can’t even begin to imagine how people are going to cope without this increase.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin previously said measures in the budget that help reduce the cost of living would have “immediate application”.

Main image: Pictured is the welfare office in Thomas Street, Dublin. Photo by: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland