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Social Protection Minister rules out means testing child benefit payment

Regina Doherty acknowledged that there are issues with the childcare system in Ireland but argued that means testing is cumbersome.

Social Protection Minister, Regina Doherty.
Social Protection Minister, Regina Doherty.
Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

SOCIAL PROTECTION MINISTER Regina Doherty has ruled out cutting child benefit for higher earners saying she believes in the universality of the payment.

Speaking at an event on Friday the minister indicated that she would examine a report on whether households earning more than €100,000 should receive the children’s allowance.

However this morning, speaking on Today with Seán O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio 1, she reiterated her support for the payment and ruled out means testing being introduced.

The payment is made to the parents or guardians of children under 16 years of age. It’s paid for children under 18 if they are in full-time education, full-time training or have a disability and cannot support themselves.

The minister acknowledged that there are issues with the childcare system in Ireland, however she said that means testing is cumbersome and she will not be introducing it.

“One of the biggest issues with regard to employment, particularly for women in this country is the lack of subsidies in childcare,” she said.

I strongly believe in the principle that we should treat all the children in the country equally and that’s why I believe in the universal payment of child benefit.

At Friday’s event employers’ group Ibec and trade union Siptu both backed changing the child benefit system, Independent.ie reports.

“Childcare is talked about a lot, but is very expensive and has to be paid for – €330 million [of children's allowance] goes to households where the income is over €100,000 a year,” Tony Donohoe of Ibec said.

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Ceimin Burke

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