A third of public spending in 2020 was spent on social protection

Nearly a third of general government spending last year was spent on social protection, according to new figures from the Department.

The Social Protection Services Statistical Information Annual Report 2020, released on Monday, revealed that €30.6 billion was spent on social protection payments last year, a 46% increase on 2019 .

The report describes 2020 as an “exceptional year” for the Ministry of Social Protection, adding that “the sudden arrival of Covid-19 has had devastating consequences for public health, the economy and the labor market”.

According to the annual report, some 9 billion euros of the money spent went to support related to the Covid-19 pandemic throughout the year.

More than 1.2 million people have received at least one payment from the Pandemic Unemployment Benefit (PUP), the Temporary Covid-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) and the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) , with an average payout of €7,200.

Nearly 70,000 recipients benefited from increased sickness allowances, at a cost of €57 million.

Social insurance fund schemes, supported by the PRSI payment, and administrative expenses amounted to €14.1 billion, an increase of €4.1 billion (40.6%) compared to compared to 2019.

However, this fund’s income was €11.4 billion in 2020, more than €900 million less than in 2019 – a drop of 7.3% due to the reduction in the number of workers. employees in 2020 and PRSI provisions relating to TWSS and EWSS.

Total expenditure on income support for people of working age amounted to €8.3 billion in 2020, an increase of more than €5 billion (156%) compared to the previous year , with the Covid-19 PUP accounting for almost 60% of this spending.

A total of 328,526 people received the PUP payment, with people between the ages of 20 and 24 representing the highest proportion of recipients.

Some 29,829 women and 31,557 men in this age group have had PUP for at least a week.

This can largely be attributed to the high proportion of this age group working in the hospitality, events and retail sectors, all of which were closed for a significant part of the year.

Child-related payments amounted to €2.6 billion in 2020, with child benefits accounting for €2.1 billion of this spending.

The benefit was paid to 633,000 families for 1.2 million children in 2020.

At the same time, 4.7 billion euros were spent on sickness, disability and care benefits in 2020, an increase of 264 million euros (5.9%) compared to 2019.

Carer’s allowance and disability allowance accounted for €2.7 billion of this expenditure, recording increases of 7.4% and 6.2% respectively.

The number of disability benefit recipients increased by 5,825 to 152,580 in 2020, an increase of 4%. Since 2011, the number of beneficiaries of this program has increased by 48.3%.

Carer’s Allowance spending has increased by 66% since 2011, with 77% of the 88,906 Allowance recipients being women, while one in five were aged 65 or over.

Social Care Minister Heather Humphreys said the level of support detailed in the report demonstrates “the extent of the government’s commitment” over the past year.

“The report also details the extent of the impact of Covid-19 on the economy in Ireland. As Minister for Social Care, I am committed to helping people get back to work, or retrain and to improve if their previous job is no longer there for them.

Joel C. Hicks