Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are both claiming responsibility for a proposed increase in the pension as part of the Budget 2017. While it seems like a small amount, a €5 weekly increase would cost €100-150 million, which is a substantial proportion of the proposed €600 million increase in Government spending.
22% of those over the age of 65 would vote for Fianna Fáil if an election was called tomorrow, and a further 18% would vote for Fine Gael. In total, 40% of pensioners would vote for either party in comparison to only 25% of the general population.
Therefore, it is no great surprise that both parties have advocated for a €5 a week increase in pensions for over 600,000 (and growing) elderly people.
The People's Budget demonstrates the Pensioner's powerful voice. This group want an increase to Social Protection budget of €304m (over three times the average) and a further €318m on health. To achieve this, Pensioners believe the budgets for the Departments of Education, Agriculture, Children, Environment, Transport, and Communications should all be increased less than the general population.
How does the Department of Social Protection divide their budget?
Who else relies on Social Protection support?
Pensions take up 34% of current spending of the Department of Social Protection, twice as much as the second largest group - those receiving support for Illness, Disability of Caring. 1 in 3 people told us a member of their families or friend relies on this welfare.
Jobseekers and Employment supports makes 20% of the Social Protection bill and Child Benefit is a further 13%.
Jobseekers seeking an increase in support.
Those in receipt of income support or jobseekers make similar but softer demands on increases to social protection, acknowledging that education and justice are also in need of increases.
However, this group is less politically engaged with a higher percentage of this group (33%) unaware of who they would vote for in an election. If there was an election tomorrow, 20% of this group would vote for either FF or FG, in comparison to the 40% of those over 65 years old.
It may make a lot of political sense for the two legacy parties Fine Gael and Fianna Fail to rewards the older voters, instead of helping those unemployed or on low incomes, but how does this prepare future generations?
Families content with Child Benefit amount.
The other group receiving benefits from Social Protection are families. Interestingly parents, those in receipt of child benefits, are not demanding an increase on Social Protection's budget. Instead, they would prefer to see greater tax cuts, with 75% of this group agreeing that the USC should be abolished.
This group would like to see an increase in Minister Zappone's department - Children & Youth Affairs - which might suggest that proposals about support with childcare are connecting with families.
With automatic payments throughout the year, the Minister of Social Protection has only an annual opportunity to make a difference - the budget. Leo has a choice to support those trying to get back in the workforce, those unable to work, or supporting those who would vote his party back in tomorrow.