Tuesday, 26 February 2019
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
During the economic downturn, my Department focused on protecting primary social welfare rates. In recent years, as the economy has been recovering, the Government has concentrated resources in improving the core rates of payments, particularly for pensioners, resulting in considerable increases in these rates.
The Bereavement Grant was a payment of €850 made where the deceased or his/her surviving partner was an insured contributor to the social insurance fund. Any decision to reinstate it would have to be considered in the context of overall budgetary negotiations.
It’s worth noting that there are a range of supports available for people following bereavement which provide more significant support than the grant. These include weekly-paid widow's, widower's or surviving civil partner’s (contributory and non-contributory) pensions, which are based on contributions or a means test, and a once-off widowed or surviving civil partner grant of €6,000 where there is a dependent child. A number of social welfare payments, including State pension, continue in payment for six weeks following a death. In Budget 2016, the Government increased the payment after death period to 12 weeks for carer’s allowance. Guardian payments are available where someone cares for an orphaned child. A special funeral grant of €850 is paid where a person dies because of an accident at work or occupational disease.
Under the Supplementary Allowance scheme, the Department may make a single exceptional needs payment (ENP) to help meet essential, once-off expenditure which a person could not reasonably be expected to meet from their weekly income, which may include help with funeral and burial expenses. This is a more targeted and efficient manner of assisting people with bereavement expenses. In 2018 ENPs were made in respect of 2,812 funerals at a cost of €5.317 million and 69 burial expenses at a cost of €140,674.
I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.