Tuesday, 28 July 2020
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
570. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated full year cost if the bereavement grant of €850 that was abolished in 2014 was reinstated; the cost of this grant in 2013; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18733/20]
The number of bereavement grant claims in 2013 was 23,716 at a cost of €20.29 Million. This represented an increase of approximately 4% on 2012. Based on a similar yearly increase each year since 2013, it is estimated that the number of bereavement grant claims that might arise in 2021, were the scheme to be reintroduced, would be in the region of 32,500, and the number would be expected to increase in future years. Accordingly, if there were 32,500 such grants made in 2021, at a rate of €850 each, the cost would be approx. €27.625 million. Any decision to reinstate the scheme would have to be considered in the wider budgetary context and in the light of available resources.
There are a range of supports available for people following bereavement which provide more significant support than the previous bereavement 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 2019 over 2,900 ENPs were paid at a cost of €5.8 million towards funeral and burial expenses.
The Department is providing funding of up to €60,000 in Budget 2020 to support the Irish Hospice Foundation who are carrying out research into the economics of bereavement and awaits the outcome of their research and findings in this area.
I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.