Minister of State Peter Burke has said: “I am pleased to say that the full Christmas Bonus was paid to social welfare recipients in Westmeath last week. This year, due to the challenges of COVID-19, the Christmas bonus will also be paid to recipients of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment, amounting in Westmeath to €1,528,317  It has been an extremely hard year for many people who have lost work through no fault of their own and it was the right decision to pay the double payment to those on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment also. There were 5,251 people on this payment in Westmeath at the beginning of December and I am hopeful that this number will fall significantly as we re-open the economy and get businesses back up and running.


“This was confirmed to me by my colleague the Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys, who has announced the details of the largest ever Christmas Bonus.


“As always, people on long term social welfare benefits such as pensioners, people with disabilities, carers and lone parents will receive the 100% Christmas bonus. Christmas is a financially difficult time for many and this additional payment is necessary to meet these costs.


“Those who have been in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) continuously or otherwise – for at least 4 months (17 weeks) since March will also receive the Christmas Bonus this year.


“Minister Humphreys has also taken care to ensure that anyone who returned to work last week as restrictions eased, will not be excluded from the Christmas Bonus. Any person in receipt of PUP for any one day from Friday 27th November to Thursday 3rd December still received the Christmas Bonus provided they also meet the 17 week requirement.


“The same criteria is also being applied to those on Jobseeker’s payments, who in previous years would have only received the Bonus if they had been out of work for at least 15 months”, Burke stated.


“I would urge people to spend this money locally where possible, supporting our local shops and businesses in our towns and villages throughout the country. This will be a €390 million injection into the Irish economy at a time when many small businesses will be reopening their doors as restrictions are eased.”