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Budget 2013: here's what will affect the children

Child Benefit has been cut by €10 for the first child but up to €20 for the subsequent children.

File photo
File photo
Image: Istomina Olena via Shutterstock

MANY OF THE Budget measures announced by Ministers Michael Noonan and Brendan Howlin today will impact on families with children.

Although the €10 cut to Child Benefit was well-flagged prior to today’s announcements, the reduction of €18 in the monthly payment for the third child went under the radar. At €20, the cut for the fourth-born is even higher.

From January 2013, the payment for the first, second and third child will be €130. The payment for the fourth child will be €140 but this will be reduced to €130 in January 2014.

Social Protection Minister Joan Burton said she has “long been of the view” that Child Benefit should be taxed but explained there are “serious legal and constitutional difficulties” associated with such a move.

The issues involved are complex and require further consideration after the Budget. In the meantime, however, given the level of expenditure on Child Benefit – over €2 billion or 10 per cent of all expenditure, it has not been possible to avoid some reductions in Child Benefit in this Budget.

The Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance has also taken a hit with the payment down one third from €150 to €100 for primary school children aged four to 11 and from €250 to €200 for secondary school students aged 12 to 17. There is also an allowance of €200 for those aged 18 to 22 who are still in full-time education.

Senator Jillian Van Turnhout expressed her disappointment at the reductions in the Child Benefit payments and Back to School allowances.

She also said the government had fallen short on its promises in relation to after-school childcare arrangements.

About €14 million per year will be allocated to the Department of Children and Youth Affairs to fund a joint initiative to provide 6,000 after-school places for children in primary school. The project will be targeted at low-income families where parents are availing of an employment opportunity.

The provision will commence with a pilot scheme in early 2013 but it has already been highly-criticised by interested parties.

Start Strong, OPEN, Barnardos and the National Women’s Council of Ireland rejected the departments moves, stating they fell “far short of a strategic approach to the development of comprehensive childcare for all children aged 0-12 years in Ireland and created a two-tier system that would segregate children based on their family incomes”.

In a joint statement, the organisations said that the moves are a far cry from calls made by Burton for a bankable, credible commitment to a system of Scandinavian-style childcare.

They called it a short-term measure that will “delay real and meaningful progress towards universal, subsidised quality services for children”.

Other elements in the Budget that will impact children include an allocation of €2 million for the school meals programme and €2.5 million for the Child Poverty Initiative.

Budget 2013: the main points from today’s announcements>

LIVE: Budget 2013 as it happens>

See: TheJournal.ie‘s full coverage of Budget 2013>

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