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Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys.
Social Protection

Government plans to extend child benefit to over-18s still in school as part of Budget

The Government also announced plans to broaden access to SUSI grants to single parents who want to study on a part-time basis.

LAST UPDATE | 15 Sep 2023

THE GOVERNMENT IS seeking to extend the Child Benefit payment to over 18s that are still in secondary school as part of October’s Budget. 

Speaking at Fine Gael’s think-in in Limerick today, Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys made the announcement saying that a key focus for her in the run up to the Budget is child poverty. 

Currently, the Child Benefit payment ceases when a teenager reaches their eighteenth birthday. 

Minister Humphreys said today: “In last year’s Budget, we looked at supporting families in every way that we could, but particularly with the double Child Benefit [payment] last year, that was very well received.

“Another issue that we see with the Child Benefit is it ceases currently when the child reaches the age of 18. So they’re in full time secondary education. So I do want to look in this Budget at how we can extend the Child Benefit so it would continue on, while they’re still in education.

“This is something that’s been raised with me.”

SUSI grant to be extended

Also announced today were plans to extend the SUSI grant system to include single parents who wish to study on a part-time basis.

Minister for Further Education Simon Harris said it is “ludicrous” that at the moment you can only access support to go to college if you do it full-time.

“How can a one parent family, where one parent is maybe trying to hold down a job, pay the mortgage or pay the rent, mind two or three kids at the same time be expected to go off to university for four years? It simply doesn’t make sense,” Harris said.

He said he intends to prioritise “trying to tap that intergenerational disadvantage of poverty” in the Budget.

“One of the ways you do that is by helping parents get back to education.

“So I’ve directed my officials to prepare plans now to ensure that student support schemes can be available for one parent families and for other groups in need, on a part-time basis,” Harris said.

He added that his priority will be getting part-time funding available for lone-parents and other groups most at risk of poverty.

We’ve never had assistance for anyone at part-time third level education in terms of financial funding. My priority in this Budget is to begin that reform and to start with those most at risk of poverty, which are one parent households, and indeed other access groups, including people with disability,” Harris said.

Free school meals

Minister Humphreys also said today that she plans to do more to help children facing food poverty. 

She noted that the Hot School Meals Programme has been “very successful” and that she wants to see it extended in the Budget. 

“My ambition is that any child that is born this year in this country will have a school meal by the time they get to primary school,” the Minister said. 

Currently, the School Meals Programme has an annual Budget of over €94 million, supporting over 1,600 schools and organisations across the country and benefiting over 260,000 children.

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