Deputy Fergus O'Dowd.
“In one of the most challenging periods in the history of the State, this Government has prioritised assisting those worst hit by the Covid-19 pandemic" Deputy O’Dowd has said followingf this afternoon's budget.
“A specialised suite of measures has been announced to target those who have lost their jobs as a result of the Covid crisis.
“A Christmas Bonus of 100% will be paid on an exceptional basis this year to recipients of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and equivalent recipients of jobseekers payments who have been on these payments for four months or more.
“Self-employed workers will be able to earn up to €480 a month gross without affecting their PUP payment.
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“The Funding for €1,000 Covid-Enterprise Support Grant will be doubled to €24million and the Part-Time Job Incentive scheme will be made available to the self-employed who intend to resume their business, but can only do so intermittently or on a limited/reduced basis when they leave the PUP payment.
“Some €10 million is being provided towards activation supports for people who are unemployed. This is in addition to the €100 million provided in the July Stimulus package.
“It has also been confirmed that a 100% Christmas Bonus will be paid in December 2020 to recipients of long-term Social Welfare.
“This Budget will also support carers and people with disabilities. 2021 will see the highest ever Carer’s Support Grant of €1,850 per year - an increase of €150 - to benefit over 130,000 carers.
“There will be a €5 increase for qualified child dependants aged 12 and over and a €2 increase for qualified child dependants up to age 12 in all weekly payments.
“Pensioners and those with disabilities will benefit from an increase in the Weekly Fuel Allowance of €3.50 to €28 per week, while 221,000 households will benefit from a €5 increase in the weekly Living Alone allowance.
“The State Pension Age will remain at age 66 from January, with legislation to be implemented by end 2020 and some 600,000 pensioners will benefit from the Christmas Bonus Double Payment.
“A grant of up to €500 will be paid for hearing aids without requiring it to be matched by the customer, while hearing aid repairs of up to €100 will no longer require matching funding by the customer.
“Budget 2021 will see a €10 increase in the threshold for Working Family Payment for families with up to three children to help working parents on low income, while working lone parents will no longer lose their One Parent Family Payment when their employment income goes over the current €425 limit. This limit of €425 will be removed from April 2021.
“To support people in work, the number of waiting days for Illness Benefit will reduce from six to three days for all new claims from the end of February 2021.
“Parent’s Benefit will be available to new working parents for up to five weeks – up by three weeks for each parent.
O’Dowd concluded: “With so much uncertainty, this Budget will go some way towards providing support and stability to the people in our communities who need it most.”
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