Number of working parents on welfare soars by over 13,500


Number of working parents on welfare soars by over 13,500

(Stock picture)
(Stock picture)

The number of working parents on welfare has soared by more than 13,500 despite the booming economy.

New figures reveal that 57,745 families were benefiting from a ‘working family payment’ last year.

This is an increase of 30pc, or 13,586 families, on the 44,159 who were availing of it in 2013.

The numbers claiming it stood at 53,384 at the end of last month, according to the latest figures.

This may indicate a slight drop on last year’s figures although it is too early to say, according to the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, which compiled the figures.

Those getting the working family payment are entitled to a minimum of €20 a week.

The tax-free payment is made to parents working 38 hours or more a fortnight who have children under 18.

It is worth 60pc of the difference between a family’s income and certain limits.

These limits range from €511 a week for those with one child to €1,308 for those with eight children or more.

In a statement, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection said there has been a “steady growth” in the number of families supported by the payment.

It said the increase in take- up since 2013 has been due to a number of factors including the substantial rise in employment.


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Population growth and a rise in the thresholds for the payments three years ago also had an impact.

The department said it has promoted the benefits of the payment and increased awareness of the scheme.

Colette Bennett, research and policy analyst at Social Justice Ireland, said the payment would not have to exist if people were earning a decent income.

She said this could mean those on the minimum wage that rises to €9.80 an hour next year would instead be guaranteed a ‘living wage’ of €11.50 an hour to cover their basic day-to-day costs.

Poverty among working families is not just down to wage rates, but the fact that parents are paying over the odds for childcare, rent and transport, she added.

Ciarán Nugent, research assistant at the union-backed Nevin Economic Research Institute, said the rise indicates that wages are not keeping pace with costs like rent.

“Although some of this reflects the rise in part-time work as a share of employment driven in part by employment growth in low-wage and seasonal sectors like retail, accommodation and food, the trends in deprivation also apply to full-time, permanent staff,” he said.

Irish Independent


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