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Each week in Ireland, over 1.3 million people receive a social welfare payment. The government spent over €20 billion in 2018 on schemes and benefits for families and individuals in our society. Around 80.6 million individual payments are made to social welfare recipients in the course of the year.

The government uses public finances to protect those who need it most, through social inclusion schemes and financial benefits. Most people will avail of a social welfare payment at some point in their lives. These benefits create a fairer society.

Illness, Disability and Carers

55,995 people received Illness Benefit in 2018. These payments are paid to people under pensionable age who are unable to work due to an illness. The government recognises that these payments help people cope with the stress of illness or injury.

The Make Work Pay report states that the government wants to promote the well-being of people with disabilities. Currently, there are over a quarter of a million people with disabilities receiving a social welfare illness or disability payment in Ireland. This ensures that people with disabilities are supported with their employment, personal and social ambitions.

255,536 people received a [disability-related support] in 2018.

The government recognises the valuable contribution of carers who care for family members, relatives and friends. Based on the National Carer's Strategy the government aims to support those who provide care and empower them to have a life outside caring.

121,671 people received a carer's support in 2018.

In total in 2018, €4.23 billion was spent supporting those who care, are ill or have a disability.

Retired and Older People

The government aims to ensure adequate, secure and sustainable pension support for retired and older people. Additional services are provided in response to changing needs, which allows them to have a reasonable standard of living when they reach retirement age.

The Roadmap for Pensions Reform 2018 - 2023 aims to create a fairer and simpler contributory pension system where a person’s pension reflects their social insurance contribution. It also aims to create a new culture of personal retirement saving in Ireland.

A 'Total Contributions Approach' for the State Pension will be introduced from 2020, which will take account of the individual's lifetime contribution with regard for periods of child-rearing, full-time caring and periods of receipt of social welfare payments. A new automatic enrollment retirement savings system will be introduced in 2022 to encourage people to save more for retirement.

In total in 2018, €7.75 billion was spent on providing state pensions to 258,612 people.

Families and Children

The government supports people as they go through various stages of family life.

The government recognises under Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures that providing welfare services to support children is highly effective. Targeted support can help children become healthier and perform better in education and make them more resilient.

Payments are provided to support families – particularly those with children. These payments are both means tested or based on social insurance contributions. Supports are also available to those in low paid employment and for parents bringing children up without the support of a partner. The Irish government’s commitment to protecting the welfare of children was shown with the introduction of Paternity Benefit in November 2019.

€2.63 billion was spent on Child Benefit in 2018. Payments were provided for 628,354 children and 21,182 mothers received Maternity Benefit.

The Youth Guarantee aims to help around 30,000 teenagers and young people who are at very high risk of long-term unemployment. It aims to provide them with an apprenticeship, education or employment.


The government wants to support people in times of loss. To do this, there are payments available for widows and widowers, orphans, surviving parents of children and carers. Most social welfare payments continue for six weeks following the death of the recipient with carer's allowance being paid for 12 weeks following the death of the recipient.

Social Inclusion

In January 2020, the Government produced the Roadmap for Social Inclusion, 2020-2025: Ambition, Goals, Commitments. The Roadmap will build on the work of its predecessors with the aim of reducing the number of people in consistent poverty in Ireland and increasing social inclusion for those who are most disadvantaged. This is reflected in its clearly stated ambition to: “Reduce consistent poverty to 2% or less and to make Ireland one of the most socially inclusive countries in the EU”.

The Roadmap translates this ambition into seven goals underpinned by 66 unique commitments (actions) to be taken to help deliver these goals. Delivery of these commitments is shared by a number of government departments. The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection is responsible for the monitoring and reporting on progress for the Roadmap as a whole. This will be undertaken by the Department’s Social Inclusion Division. Information on the work of the Social Inclusion Division, including links to the Roadmap, progress reports and other publications can be found here

Publications (760)

Payment Update for COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment and Jobseeker Claims

26 March 2020; Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection; Press release;

Latest updates on COVID-19 (Coronavirus) from DEASP

26 March 2020; Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection; Publication;

Customer Notices

25 March 2020; Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection; News;