Written answers

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Department of Social Protection

Child Benefit Eligibility

Photo of Frank FeighanFrank Feighan (Roscommon-South Leitrim, Fine Gael)
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35. To ask the Minister for Social Protection the reason children allowance for children attending third level education up to 21 years of age has been stopped. [46709/14]

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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Children’s allowance was replaced by Child Benefit in 1986. Child benefit is a universal payment that assists parents with the cost of raising children and it contributes towards alleviating child poverty. It is paid to more than 613,000 families in respect of almost 1.2 million children, with an estimated expenditure of around €1.9 billion in 2014.

Child benefit is paid monthly in respect of all children up to the age of 16 years and in respect of children over 16 years of age up to their 18th birthday who are in full time education, on certain training schemes or have a disability. The current age limit was set under Budget 2009 when the upper age limit that applied then was reduced from 19 years to 18 years with effect from 2010. Child benefit has never been paid to those over 19 years of age.

For families on low incomes there are a number of provisions to social welfare schemes which support children in third level education until the age of 22. These include:

- qualified child increases (QCIs) with primary social welfare payments

- family income supplement (FIS) for low-paid employees with children.

Therefore, I have no plans to make any changes to the age threshold for child benefit.

Budget 2015 increased child benefit by €5, from €130 to €135 per month, which will benefit over 611,000 households with children. In addition, the new back to work family dividend for long-term unemployed jobseekers with children and lone parents who return to work, will provide €29.80 per child in the first year and half that figure in the second year.


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