Emergency Payments

There are times when families struggle to meet the cost of living. Things can be even tougher when there is an unexpected cost of some sort such as a very large utility bill or a once-off item.

The Department of Social Protection (DSP) has a scheme called the Supplementary Welfare Scheme (SWA) which may be useful in such circumstances. There are two types of payment under the scheme which may apply:

  • The Exceptional Needs Payment, and
  • The Urgent Needs Payment.

The Exceptional Needs Payment

The Exceptional Needs Payment is a once-off payment to help meet a once-off exceptional cost – something other than the normal costs of the household – which someone could not be reasonably expected to meet out of their weekly income. For example, the payment could be for bedding, or cooking utensils for someone setting up a home for the first time, or it could be for costs related to visiting relatives in hospital or prison, or costs related to a funeral following bereavement.

You do not have to meet the habitual residence condition to qualify for the exceptional needs payment.

The Urgent Needs Payment

The Urgent Needs Payment may be paid to people in emergency situations; for example in the case of a fire, flood or other type of accident or disaster. The payment is meant to help with the immediate cost of food and clothing. You may have to pay back some or all of the money at a later date, if you are in employment and have the means to repay the money later, or if you receive money through an insurance scheme to cover your losses.

If you are means-tested for an Urgent Needs Payment, all capital, property, (except your home) is taken into account and assessed as means. In a means test, the Department of Social Protection examines all of your sources of income. Sometimes a certain amount, or income from a particular source, is not taken into account – these are called “income disregards”. However all capital/property except your home is taken into account for the Urgent Needs Payment as there are no disregards for capital.

Where to apply

Applications for both the Exceptional Needs Payment and the Urgent Needs Payment are made at your local HSE health centre or Intreo Centre (DSP).

St Vincent de Paul

The St Vincent de Paul is a long-established Irish organisation whose goal is to fight poverty in all its forms. It does this by offering practical assistance to people who need it through its nation-wide services. While this option may not be for everyone, it may be useful to know about the services they offer and their locations. That information is on their website. To access their service you make contact with the office in your area and they will be able to tell you about the next steps. This contact will usually involve leaving your contact details, including your address and a contact phone number and possibly the nature of your enquiry.