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New child benefit will hurt poorer families, says Vincent de Paul

The recommended two-tier child benefit system will worsen the situation of families who are already struggling, the charity said.

Image: Child benefit photo via Shutterstock

PLANS TO RADICALLY reform child benefit will cause major problems for families on low incomes, the Society of St Vincent de Paul has said.

The charity said both of the options put forward by an expert group yesterday would worsen the situation of families who are already struggling.

In a statement, the charity said that the focus on wealthy families receiving the universal payment which they don’t need was misguided, pointing to the fact that two-thirds of children in Ireland live in a household which earns less than €60,000 per year.

The cuts to child benefit and changes to how it is paid out have already hit many families hard, the charity said, saying that it would support the child benefit payment remaining universal along with targeted payments for people on low incomes.

Around 60 per cent of the estimated 100,000 calls to the St Vincent de Paul asking for help last year came from families with children.

The expert group has recommended the introduction of a two-tier child benefit system, where the payment remains universal but with supplementary payments for parents on low incomes.

Only parents who earn under €25,000 will qualify for the maximum payment if the new system is adopted.

“The Government needs to give confidence to those who have shouldered the burden of austerity measures, particularly for those who are out of work and our young people seeking employment,” said Geoff Meagher, national president of the Society of St Vincent de Paul.

“The nation deserves a clear indication of what to expect when the burden of the austerity programme is lifted”.

Read: Only 61 per cent of families to receive full child benefit payments under new proposals >

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