Spending on social security benefits rose by just over €38 million in 2021 when compared to the previous year, the National Statistics Office said on Wednesday.

The government forked out around €1.12 billion in such spending last year - a 3.6 per cent increase over the €1.08 billion spent in the previous year. 

A €35.9 million rise in contributory expenditure was the primary reason behind the increase in spending, while the non-contributory outlay increased by €2.4 million.

Contributory spending relates to social spending on things like retirement pensions, invalidity pensions, widows' pensions and unemployment benefits. 

Non-contributory spending relates to benefits such as childrens' allowance, disability pension, old age pension, the in-work benefit and medical assistance. 

Government spending towards contributory benefits amounted to €914.2 million, a 4.1% rise from 2020.

Retirement pensions recorded the largest increase - €43.1 million, following a rise of 2,071 in the number of two-thirds pensioners.

Lower expenditure was reported under, among other, COVID-19 benefits (€13.9 million).

In 2021, €201 million were spent on non-contributory benefits, a 1.2% increase in comparison to the previous year.


Between January and December, the largest number of contributory beneficiaries - 55,568 - was recorded under the two-thirds pension.

The 2,071 increase in two-thirds pensioners was the highest reported among the contributory benefits. The biggest drop in recipients was registered under the COVID-19 parent benefit (3,438).

Children’s allowance reported the highest number of non-contributory recipients, with 44,490 families in receipt of the benefit

The in-work benefit recorded the largest increase in beneficiaries - 1,909 - while the highest drop in recipients was witnessed under children’s allowance (1,116).

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