Labour demands government action for supports for cohabiting couples

Senator Mark Wall
26 October 2022

In advance of the Seanad debate today (Wednesday, 26th October) of Labour’s Social Welfare (Surviving Cohabitant’s Pension) Bill, Labour Senator Mark Wall has called for government support for cohabiting couples.

If enacted, Labour’s bill would bridge the gap in the current social welfare legislation and entitle a surviving partner of a cohabiting couple to a widows / widowers.

Senator Wall said:

“We are calling on government to take a compassionate approach and support families when they need it most. Right now, cohabitant couples are excluded from social welfare supports in the case of a bereavement. That’s just not right or fair. The State needs to be there for people when they need it most.

“Government has indicated that they will merely delay Labour’s Bill rather than acting now to support all families. In Ireland, there are 150,000 cohabiting couples and 75,000 of which have children. We are calling on Government to deal with this gap in the welfare system once and for all, and be there for families when they need it most.

“Another option for government to deal with this immediately would be through bringing forward comprehensive amendments to the Social Welfare Bill to ensure cohabiting couples are given more security by our social protection system.

“The Widow’s Contributory Pension is a weekly payment of €208.50-€258.50 depending on the age and contributions of the recipient. The Bereavement Grant is a once off payment of €8,000. We need to have an overhaul of our welfare system to take into account the structure of family in Ireland today.

“The recent High Court judgement in the O’Meara case makes clear that a change in this area requires a policy decision, so the power to address this rests with the Oireachtas. We are asking for cross-party support and swift implementation of the Labour Party Bill and commit to ensuring all modern families are recognised for social supports.”

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