Almost half the Irish population is now in receipt of a social welfare payment from the government as the recession deepens.

New figures show that the cost to the exchequer is spiralling as long term unemployment grows.
Last year alone saw a 40 per cent increase in the total cost of payments to those on Jobseekers Allowance.

Shockingly, a third of all money spent by the Irish state in 2010 went to welfare recipients.

Figures from the Department of Social Protection confirm that a whopping $29.3billion was paid by the Irish government to welfare recipients in 2010.



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The figure is in stark contrast to the $19billion spent on the same basis at the height of the Celtic Tiger boom in 2006.

Children’s allowance payments were actually down in 2010, after a major clampdown on fraud, while pensions and other payments to older people made up 22 per cent of the 2010 expenditure.

Just under 20 per cent of the $29.billion paid went to the unemployed while 12.7 per cent went on child support payments.

The cost of the government’s Jobseekers Allowance scheme rose by $1.13billion to $3.95billion last year.

In spite of the huge sums involved, sources at the Department for Social Protection have denied there are any plans to cut unemployment benefit or other welfare payments next year.