Recipients of the Farm Assist and Rural Social Scheme payments are in line for a Christmas Bonus to the tune of €2 million this year, according to Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys.

Farmers on the Farm Assist payment – numbering some 5,850 recipients – will receive an overall bonus worth €1.2 million this year.

Meanwhile, some €800,000 has been set aside as a bonus for the 3,059 recipients of the Rural Social Scheme.

These come as part of the largest ever Christmas Bonus this year, which will be paid to over 1.6 million recipients in the week beginning Monday, December 7, with payments totalling €390 million.

As per previous years, the 100% Christmas Bonus will be paid to long-term social welfare recipients such as pensioners, people with disabilities, carers and lone parents.

On an exceptional basis this year, the Christmas Bonus will also be paid to recipients of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) provided they have been in receipt of a PUP payment – continuously or otherwise – for at least 4 months (17 weeks) since March.

It’s estimated that 311,270 people who have been on the PUP will receive the bonus, totally over €93 million.

This means that approximately 90% of PUP recipients (currently 350,000) are in line to receive a Christmas Bonus.

Announcing the record bonus, Minister Humphreys urged people to spend it locally in order to support small businesses:

“Christmas brings many extra financial pressures and I am particularly pleased to provide a 100% Christmas Bonus this year for over 1.6 million people.

I would strongly encourage people to spend their Christmas Bonus locally this year and support 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.”