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2.2 million people benefit from social welfare payments

Statistical Information on Social Welfare Services 2012 is published

There were 1.469 million people in receipt of a weekly social welfare payment at the end of 2012, and when adult dependents and children were taken into account, over 2.259 million people benefitted from welfare payments last year.

The figures are contained in the Department of Social Protection’s Statistical Information on Social Welfare Services 2012 Report, published by the Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton TD, today (Thursday, 11thJuly 2013). This is the thirtieth edition of the annual report and provides information on social welfare services for the period January to December 2012, as well as detailing trends over the last ten years. It also provides information on social welfare financing and rates of payment. 

Total social welfare expenditure in 2012 amounted to €20.774 billion, a decrease of 0.9% over 2011. The expenditure in 2012 represented 40.6% of all day-to-day Government expenditure and was equivalent to 15.6% of GNP.

The main areas of expenditure by programme group were Pensions (30.2% of Departmental expenditure), Working Age Income Supports (28.8%), Working Age Employment Supports (4.6%), Illness, Disability and Caring (16.1%), Children (11.5%) and Supplementary Payments (5.7%). Administration of the social welfare system accounted for 3% of total expenditure.

Commenting on the statistics, Minister Burton said: “The crucial importance of the welfare system is reflected in these figures. The Department of Social Protection plays a role in virtually everyone’s life at some stage, whether it is through Child Benefit, Jobseeker’s payments, pensions or any of the many other income supports we provide.

“But the figures also demonstrate the emphasis I’ve placed since becoming Minister on transforming the Department from the passive benefits provider of old to one that is actively assisting people back to work, training and education. Our service does not stop at merely providing a jobseeker’s payment to somebody who is out of work. We also provide the employment supports to help that person back into work, training or education. That is why we spent over €950 million last year on schemes such as Community Employment, Tús, JobBridge, and the Back to Work and Back to Education Allowances.”

In all, expenditure on Working Age Employment Supports increased by 10.6% in 2012 to over

€954 million. The Back to Education Allowance facilitated 25,033 recipients during the year at a cost of some €200 million. Over 29,500 people engaged in employment programmes during 2012 with the Community Employment Programme having the highest number of participants at 22,445. The Rural Social Scheme and Tús had 2,591 and 4,530 participants respectively. An estimated €54.73 million was spent on JobBridge, the national internship scheme.

This year, the total spend on such supports will exceed €1 billion and benefit approximately 85,000 people.

Expenditure on Working Age Income Supports in 2012 amounted to €5.992 billion – 3.1% less than the previous year. The payment type in this programme group with both the largest expenditure and number of recipients is Jobseeker’s Allowance. At the end of 2012 there were 294,442 recipients of Jobseeker’s Allowance at a cost of €3.055 million, representing an increase of 2.7% over 2011.       

Minister Burton said: “The sums we spend on income supports and employment supports for jobseekers shows the dual role of my Department. We must continue to provide a safety net for those who need it and a springboard back to work for jobseekers.”

Pensions accounted for the greatest amount spent on social welfare payments in 2012 at almost €6.28 billion. The overall number of payments in respect of pensions rose by 17,964 during the year, an increase of 3.4% on 2011.

Social welfare expenditure in 2012 was financed by the Exchequer (57.4%) and the Social Insurance Fund (42.6%). The Social Insurance Fund was financed through Pay-Related Social Insurance contributions from employers (73.8%), employees (21.8%), and the self-employed (4.6%).

Minister Burton concluded: “The number of people in receipt of a weekly welfare payment has increased from 1.209 million people at the end of 2008 to 1.469 million people at the end last year – an increase of 260,000 people. We have catered for that increase while contributing to the Government’s deficit reduction programme in order to bring the public finances under control. Therefore, it can be fairly said that the Department has risen to the challenge of implementing unprecedented structural reform while contributing significantly to the necessary consolidation in the public finances and, most importantly, offering a safety net to those who need it.”

Other key statistics:      

Expenditure on Carer’s Allowance increased by over €2 million in 2012, to €509.671 million. There are now 52,209 recipients, including 23,377 carers in receipt of a half-rate Carer’s Allowance. There were 1,638 carers in receipt of Carer’s Benefit in 2012.

Child Benefit accounted for over €2 billion in 2012. The breakdown of Child Benefit by family size shows that 76.8% of recipient families in 2012 were claiming for either one or two children. The number of families receiving Child Benefit increased by 11,400 to 608,733 in 2012, with the total number of children in respect of whom Child Benefit is paid increasing by 26,005 to 1,162,070.

Family Income Supplement expenditure increased by over €19 million to €223.6 million, an increase of 9.3%. Expenditure on the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance, which is intended to contribute towards the cost of children returning to school, was €65.6 million in 2012 and the Department also provided €35 million for school meals programmes during the year.

Household Benefit amounted to €369 million, with over 1.2 million allowances and licences paid in 2012. Over 754,700 people were in receipt of Free Travel which cost €75 million in 2012. Fuel Allowance expenditure in 2012 was €211.394 million, €54 million less than in 2011.

The expenditure on Illness Benefit was €773.2424 million while Invalidity Pensions cost €603.92 million – a drop of 11.7% and 0.4% respectively on the previous year.  Disability Allowance amounted to €1.087 billion in 2012 with 101,784 in receipt of the payment at the end of December.

The Department dealt with 2,046,194 registered claims during 2012 that were finalised, of which 1,717,380, or 84%, were awarded. The remainder (328,814) were either disallowed or withdrawn by the client.

The Statistical Information on Social Welfare Services 2012 Report will be available on the Department’s website at