Skip to main content

Cuts could wreck poorer children’s college chances

Resource type: News

Irish Independent |

THE cutting of child benefit payments to those over the age of 18 could exclude children from lower-income families from third-level education and may even prevent others from completing secondary school, children’s groups said yesterday. In his Budget, Brian Lenihan announced that benefit payments for all children over the age of 18, including the disabled, are to be abolished in 2010, and the payment is to be halved for the same age group for 2009. The payment is currently paid to all children under 16 and for those aged between 16 and 19 with a disability or in full-time education. There was no increase in the payment yesterday, which is EUR166 for first and second children, and EUR203 for the third child onward. Next year, the payment to over 18s will be EUR83 — and will be zero from 2010. The Department of Social and Family Affairs said that some special compensation measures, including clothing and footwear allowance schemes, would be provided until January 2011. The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul (SVP) said that the withdrawal of the payment for those over the age of 18 could have a disastrous affect on children from low-income families finishing school or pursuing third-level education. John Mark McCafferty, head of Social Justice and Policy at the SVP said that cutting the child benefit by age was “crude”. “It shouldn’t have been done by age,” he said. “It should have been done by income. This is a very crude measure. Will it deter people from continuing in school? Will it deter people from going to third level'” Barnardos said that it would reduce the future employment options for poorer children and lock them out of the benefits of any economic recovery. Mr Lenihan also announced that the weekly payment for a child from a family already in receipt of social welfare payments will go up by EUR2 — an increase described as “meagre” by Barnardos. The minister also said that the Government is to scale back the early childcare supplement. Parents of children aged from newborn to five-and-a half will be allowed claim the supplement, a cutback from the previous age range of zero to six years. The EUR1,100 payment will also be paid by the month, rather than quarterly as at present. The guardian’s payment is to increase from EUR170 to EUR176.50 and the one-parent family allowance for a single parent with a child under 18 has also gone up from EUR221.80 to EUR230.30. “While the modest increases in the basic social welfare payments are welcome, in reality the EUR6.50 extra that’s been given equates to buying 1lb of mince and 6 eggs so it won’t make a decisive impact on families living in poverty,” said Norah Gibbons from Barnardos. “Likewise the meagre increase of EUR2 in the Qualified Child Allowance will not sufficiently help parents meet the costs of basic necessities for their children. “We are concerned that if inflation goes above the prediction of 2.5pc next year these increases will be meaningless to those families already struggling to make ends meet.”

Related Resources


Children & Youth

Global Impact:

Republic of Ireland


Barnardo's, St. Vincent de Paul