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Cabinet

Plans to extend child benefit to over-18s still in education brought forward to May

The measure is set to benefit families in respect of approximately 60,000 18-year olds.

LAST UPDATE | Feb 13th 2024, 3:46 PM

PLANS TO EXTEND child benefit to over 18s who are still in education is to be brought forward to May.

Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys has secured approval to extend the payment for 18-year-olds who are in full time education or who have a disability, from 1 May.

Government had announced in the budget that the payment would be extended until the person’s 19th birthday from September 2024.

However, Humphreys told colleagues today that her department is in a position to implement the measure four months early.

The measure is set to benefit families in respect of approximately 60,000 18-year olds.

Currently, the child benefit payment ceases when a teenager reaches their eighteenth birthday. 

Child benefit is paid at €140 per child for month.

The minister has said this particular move is designed to assist families with the cost-of- living, stating that a significant number of 18 year olds are in second level education.

  • Our colleagues at Noteworthy want to investigate the impact that increasing school ‘voluntary contributions’ are having on parents. Support this project here

It’s understood the minister intends to implement the change through an amendment to the Social Welfare and Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2023 that is due before the Seanad this week.

“This particular change that I am announcing today reflects the fact that many children nowadays don’t finish secondary school until after they turn 18,” Humphreys said. 

“This could be because a child started school at the age of five, or perhaps because they opted to take part in Transition Year,” she said. 

“That’s why this measure is so important in terms of supporting tens of thousands of additional families with the cost of living and putting more money back in their pockets.”

Oireachtas committee on drug use 

Separately, Drugs Minister Hildegarde Naughton will bring a memo to Cabinet to establish a special Oireachtas committee which will examine the Citizens’ Assembly’s recommendations on drug use “as quickly as possible”.

Once government has agreed today, the minister will engage with the Oireachtas in a bid to set up the committee, with the hope mechanisms can be in place by next month. 

Last year, the assembly voted that the State should take a comprehensive health-led policy response to dealing with people who are in possession of drugs for personal use, rather than voting for a legalisation and regulation approach.

Among its 36 recommendations is a proposal that people should be referred to health and addiction services where appropriate, rather than criminalised.

The group recommended that the possession of cannabis, mushrooms (psilocybin), cocaine and other drugs for personal use should be decriminalised.

Public pay 

Today, Public Expenditure ⁠Minister Paschal Donohoe will also bring a memo seeking government approval of the Public Service Agreement 2024 – 2026 recently negotiated.

⁠The Agreement runs for two and a half years and the total cost amounts to €3.6 billion, providing for increases of 10.25% over a two and a half year period.

Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien will also bring a report on housing supply and activity in the sector.

It outlines the delivery in 2023, with 32,695 homes completed in the year, with 32,800 new homes having commenced construction between January and December 2023, which is up 21% year-on-year.

It also outlines that first-time buyer mortgage approvals increased 8.9% year-on-year and that residential construction output in Ireland is forecast to grow at the strongest rate among 19 European countries.

However, the report does not outline whether the government met its social and affordable targets for last year. It is understood that the data has been collected and is currently being validated before being released in a number of weeks.  

With reporting by Hayley Halpin

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