The increased rate of pensions and weekly social welfare payments introduced in Budget 2019 will come into effect for more than 24,000 Clare families and individuals next week.

Clare Fine Gael TD Joe Carey said that people would benefit from €362 million in additional social welfare expenditure announced last October, bringing the total social welfare spend to €20.5 billion for the year.

“The maximum personal rate of pension will increase by €5 per week for 15,839 Clare pensioners aged 66 and over from the week commencing 25 March.

“There will also be a €5 increase for weekly welfare recipients including carers, widows, people with disabilities, lone parents, jobseekers, maternity and paternity benefit recipients, farm assist recipients and community employment participants,” Deputy Carey explained.

He said that 4,827 Clare people would benefit from the increase in jobseekers’ payments; 2,109 from increased carers’ allowances and benefits; 1,168 from the new working family payment and 679 from the one parent family payment.

“We will also see the increases on weekly payments of €2.20 for dependent children aged under 12, and €5.20 for dependent children aged 12 and over. This will bring the qualified child increases to €34 per week and €37 per week respectively.

“Working lone parents who are receiving the one parent family payment and jobseeker’s transitional payment will now be able to earn an extra €20 per week, up to €150, and keep their full payment. Some 13,200 families will benefit from this which takes effect from next week.

“People receiving the Working Family Payment in receipt of maintenance will benefit from a new disregard of €95 per week in respect of housing costs.

“The weekly fuel allowance of €22.50 is being extended by one week this year until 12 April.

“Free GP care will be expanded to an additional 100,000 people as the income threshold for GP visit cards is increased. Visit to assess your eligibility. The prescription charge is also being reduced by 50c for those aged 70 and over.

“As part of Slaintecare, we must reduce the cost of healthcare. These measures will help ensure healthcare is affordable to those who need it,” Deputy Carey added.

From April, the threshold for the monthly Drugs Payment Scheme will be reduced by €10. Your family will pay no more than €124 a month for approved drugs and medicines. Apply at or through your Local Health Office.

“Fine Gael in Government is doing what we said we would do, using the benefits of our resurgent economy to help those who need it most.

“Some of these increases allow us to target resources where they are best placed to really help our most vulnerable citizens – particularly children. So, as well as a €5 increase in most allowances, there will also be increases in the payment for qualified children – including a significant increase for children aged 12 and over,” Deputy Carey concluded.