How does a family live on €204 per week?

Can someone please eludicate this for me please? I just don’t know how this is possible. I might be naive but having a family of 5, we would spend that on food alone. How do the unemployed pay their rent, electricity, bins, phone etc? I presume they’d have a medical card. Things are not easy for us at the moment and we have a lot more than €1419(€204+ say €535 for 3 kids children’s allowance) per month. I know cuts have to be made, but how can people on this level of income take even a reduction of 5%?

The amount of rent they’d pay would be minimal, probably something on the order of €20 or €30 a week.

IIRC, €204 a week is the allowance for a single person. A family would get more, and potentially qualify for other cash benefits.

I don’t follow this stuff exhaustively, but there was a bit of a controversy recently over a family in Clare living on social welfare. Put quickly, they had approached the media to highlight their case (I think they had some problem with accommodation - although they were housed), but the media being somewhat fickle highlighted their entitlements. They have 6 children, and so apparently get €480/week dole, €800/month rent allowance and €1144/month child benefit. That makes about €3800/month. Folk were variously saying you’d need an income of €60,000 to €80,000 to pull that in after tax (I think the gap between the 60 and the 80 is accounted for by whether you include the child benefit that everyone gets).

Anyway, the rights and wrongs are well turned over in that thread if you’ve an interest in that sort of thing.

They have a medical card and recieve quite a bit of money for rent. Also, if they do all their shopping in Lidl or Aldi they could get by. Remember, the dole is meant to be a temporary situation, not a lifestyle choice.

Also, if you have 3 kids then I’m pretty sure you get Children’s allowances.

From what I can work out from the site

A family of five (assuming 2 adults 3 children) would receive:

€204.30 for the first adult
€135.60 for the second adult
E78 for the three children (E26 for each child)
and E535 per month children’s benefit ( E123.46 per week)

The total would be E541.36 per week.
which is a pretty liveable amount.

Rent allowance would be paid in addition to that.

The rate is €204 for the individual claiming plus €26 per qualified child

So in the case of three kids that’s €282 a week right away in dole. Plus all the other stuff.

Thanks for that! As rent, childcare and food take up most of our budget, my family disposable income is not too far from that of a family on the dole. I don’t feel so worried for the unemployed now.

Instead perhaps worry why you are workign 40hrs+ per week to make what others are getting for free.

Oh man, deja vu. Many moons ago on AAM I tried to get to the bottom of how much you’d need to be earning
to be better off than your equivalent on the dole. I didn’t get a whole lot of help in doing it. It’s very unpopular
to be seen to even ask such a question.

I still don’t understand why someone on the dole can see a GP for free, and someone who pays PRSI can’t.

I’m a reasonably sensible person and fairly well paid, but last time I got a sore throat I waited it out hoping to suffer
through until it cleared up itself. I ended up in so much agony I had to go to the GP. Yes you might say, your health
is worth 50 euro or 60 euro, but it’s just not feasible to go to the GP every time you have a health issue, particularly
when the answer is often… “If it hasn’t improved by Monday come back to me…that’ll be 50 euro please”

I still don’t understand how some people manage to live for years paying €20 or €30 a week in rent and then
get to own their house.

I never understood growing up how my father worked every hour god sent and yet friends of mine who’s dad was
on the dole had bigger TV’s more channels, VCR etc.

This is not to be anti-welfare. We need welfare. But something is wrong when people are better off on welfare than
taking a job on the minimum wage. In fact you can go quite a bit above minimum wage before it’s worthwhile.

One third of all the money the state spends goes on welfare. And in many cases I think it achieves little more than
bidding up the cost of things for everyone.

Is it actually possibly to ever provide enough social housing? Doesn’t social housing by definition create a trap that
leaves those just above the level of social housing needing social housing. Is the whole approach to welfare just a
self defeating exercise in futility? Or am I missing something?


As other have pointed out there is also a medical card, and many other allowances payable - back to schoolapyments, and bus for kids spring to mind. The 541 is of course net, or 28k per year.

Its quite viable when you add it all up.

Anecdotal evidence but a best mate of my sister in law is in social welfare, single, has two kids. Shops in Brown Thomas (I don´t do that), gets language classes and misses most of them but pays the teacher religiosly for the whole monthly fee and goes to Spain once a month, saturday to sunday regardless of cost of flights. Lives A LOT well than we do, and we have a pretty good number right now compared to many.


IN social welfare?
ON social welfare?


You are not missing anything - you are exactly correct - which is why I have sadly had to decide that I will not be returning to Ireland.

And to be honest, I am bitter about it. My whole family is there - but I am 31 and need to start my own family…it will be in the US. (and I am not proud or smug about that - I really wish it was in Ireland)

This is worthy of a thread on its own to look at the facts and figures only (with for and against diatribes safely stored elsewhere).

Depends what you mean by social housing. Housing associations in Holland for example control 30% of the country’s housing stock and set rents in line with median incomes. Other people choose to buy houses and others rent privately. Seems to work quite well.

No group of people are homogeneous. At the income level just under and above social housing you’ll have a wide range of opinions concerning social housing, some won’t give a crap and will take whatever’s going while others want to work and earn what they get so won’t accept it.

Unfortunately we’ve built a society where those who work and want to make their own way are severely disadvantaged by government policy. Just like the public service doesn’t really care if you do a good job or not, the Dail doesn’t care if your expenses were justified or not nor does the country care if you work or not. Many many people are equally well off whether they work or not, many more would be better off not working.

Well in this case everyone gets child benefit so
2 adults and 3 children - €204.30+€135.60+E78= E417.90 per week
E21,730.80 per year.

A couple with three children in Dublin receive €1,110pcm in rent allowance, however the first E24 per week of rent must be paid from their own means.

E33,802 in Dublin.

Outside Dublin the numbers are considerably lower.
In Galway for instance Rent Allowance is E180 per week:

Playing with the quick quote on Quinn, health insurance for two adults and three children is about E2000 a year

So in Dublin you’d need to have a take home of E35,802 which for a married couple is a yearly household income of E43,000
and in Galway of E31,842, which for a married couple is a yearly household income of E37,000
to be better off working.

That said, I haven’t worked in some benefits which accrue if you’re working, for instance if your employer pays your health insurance that will reduce that somewhat. If they don’t there’s a tax credit for it. There is a tax credit for rental costs. There is mortgage interest relief . On the other side there are benefits related to back to school time for kids.

Tax credit for health insurance should be included in the quoted price

You forgot the winter fuel allowance (paid in cash), free TV license etc. (household benefits package).

So add them in yourself.