Child benefit cuts opposed
Opponents to cuts in child benefit have warned that such action would "hammer" middle income households, after media reports on the topic suggested a cut in €40 could be brought in on the universal benefit.
Socialist Party Councillor, Mick Barry, insisted that a proposal to slash child benefit would “hammer middle income households who need every penny of child benefit to pay for childcare and other essentials.”
“Child benefit is not pin money, it is money that is absolutely essential to the running of hundreds of thousands of households,” said Mr Barry.
“If the Government think they can take this money away without an almighty political backlash they are very much mistaken. I would encourage families dependent on child benefit to raise their voices very loudly on this issue straight away and let the Government politicians know in no uncertain manner the views of the people on this matter."
Currently child benefit is universally paid to families across the State. The current payments are €140 per child for the first two children in a family, with the third child receiving €148 and €160 for each subsequent child.
“Proposals to cut child benefit by €40 per month are outrageous,” said Orla O’Connor, Director of the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI).
“Any attempts to reform child benefit must take into account the costs that parents are paying for children, including food, educational, medical and childcare costs. Childcare costs in Ireland remain one of the highest in the European Union. An OECD report in 2010 showed that households with young children in Ireland spend on average 41 per cent of their income on childcare.”
Ms O’Connor called on Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton to publish the report on child income supports due before the Cabinet next week.
However, one Government TD in Cork dismissed any criticisms on the basis that “no proposals have even been brought forward.”
“The Government was criticised last year for speculating and flying kites before the budget,” said Labour’s Ciarán Lynch.
“People were aggravated by last year’s speculation, so Opposition spokespeople must be responsible this year when it comes to speculation on their part. No decision has been made in relation to child benefit.”
Children’s charity, Barnardos, said reform of the child support system was long overdue but any reforms must not put families at risk of poverty.
"Any reduction must be phased in over time and must be countered by an increase in income and service supports for low income families,” said Barnados CEO Fergus Finlay.
“Family incomes have been hit from all angles in the recession. Discussion about income supports must take into account the cumulative effect of other budget decisions on families to ensure the protection of children.”