RUMOURED €10 REDUCTION ALARMING CALLING UNIVERSALITY INTO QUESTION
Cork North West, Fine Gael TD, has expressed his concern at rumours circulating of a €10 reduction in child benefit and has called for an end to universal payment and the linking of child benefit payment to school attendance in a move which would ensure that benefit payments are not leaving the state while simultaneously alleviating the problem of truancy in schools. Commenting on the proposal which he recently put to the Minster for Social Protection, Deputy Creed said:
“I have asked the Minister her views on linking Child benefit payment to school attendance within the State and to consider implementing such a condition. The Minister has responded by stating that there are no plans to introduce a condition in Ireland related to school attendance beyond that which currently exists for those aged 16 and 17. Commenting on the possible impact my proposal would have on truancy levels the Minister deferred to the Minister for Education and the Minister for Children. I am disappointed with her response”.
“I believe the Government has to look across Departments for solutions to a range of problems be they financial or social. There is an opportunity to ensure that school attendance is maximised by penalising truancy with a reduction or suspension to child benefit for serial offenders. Government must be flexible and open minded when presented with suggestions and not be blinkered and short-sighted in terms of Departmental or legislative constraints. I understand the legal dilemma whereby the EU’s social security systems are required to be co-ordinated and the payment of benefits must apply to all EU citizens equally regardless of which state they work in, therefore ensuring Irish citizens working in other EU member states benefit equally from the host countries system an vice versa. I am proposing a little financial engineering which will see the current regime remain up to school going age and then the child benefit payment switches to a school attendance payment”.
Commenting on reports that child benefit is to be cut by €10 in next months budget. Deputy Creed said;
“I acknowledge that no final budgetary decision have been taken as of yet and we are dealing with pure speculation, however I am alarmed that there is a possibility of child benefit being cut by as much as €10. This situation highlights the inequality of the current universal system which is unsustainable and unfair. I note this morning groups such as Barnardos and others, who support the universal nature of the payment, expressing their concerns. Scarce resources need to be targeted at areas where they are most needed and a blind adherence to the principle of retaining child benefit as a universal payment is of another era”.
“The case has been made, that the implementation of a means test is too expensive to administer. However in the absence of such a mechanism it is important that if the €10 cut is to proceed then the Government should compensate those on Social welfare by an equivalent increase in child dependent allowance or in the family income supplement”.