Friday, September 23, 2022

Kenneth Fox

The Government has been forced to dramatically hike emergency payments to families struggling with the cost of essentials such as clothing and housing.

As the Irish Examiner reports, almost €34 million has already been paid out by the State this year on top of the usual social welfare payments.

Last month alone the Department of Social Protection paid out €6.5 million in urgent additional payments to struggling households. That is almost double the €3.5 million paid out in August 2021.

€301,079 has been paid out to cover 492 bills in August compared to €96,788 to cover 102 bills in August last year.

On housing costs, €3.9m was paid out last month in comparison to €2.7 million in August 2021.

The State spent €720,474 on clothing in August compared to €71,996 in the same period, a 900 per cent increase.

€38,043 was paid out to parents for child-related costs last month in comparison to €28,052 the previous August.

General costs also amounted to €858,325 in August, but the State only paid out €187,127 in the same month last year.

The stark figures show the challenge faced by the Government in next week’s budget, with households already having to contend with surging gas, electricity, and food bills.

The newly-released figures show the Government has had to step in to help more people cover funeral costs. The amount paid out last month was €544,596 compared to €369,871 in the same month last year.

The only category that witnessed a dip in pay-outs was for illness, with €16,630 paid out in August compared to €18,497 last year.

A total of €28.4 million was paid out to families seeking help between January and August last year. But in the same period this year, €33.9m has already been spent by the State to help people with the cost-of-living crisis.

The figures show there was an increase in emergency payments from May this year when prices began to rise steeply and the country felt the effect of the energy crisis caused by the war in Ukraine.

Last month’s €720,474 spend on clothing does not include the Government’s back-to-school clothing and footwear allowance scheme.

The scheme opened for applications in June 2022 and by September 6, payments totalling €79.5m had been made to more than 141,976 families in respect of 253,558 qualified children.

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