Child Benefit

Uniquely among the parties contesting this election, Fine Gael believes that we cannot tax our way to economic recovery. If we are to grow employment while fixing the deficit, for every additional euro we raise in taxes we have to cut spending by almost three euro. This will inevitably have to include some savings in the social welfare budget, while protecting the most vulnerable children and families.

Fine Gael will introduce a new “Child Income Support” payment with universal and targeted components. Under the Fine Gael Plan, we will:

maintain the universal payment so that all families continue to receive support with the cost of child-raising
protect the 300,000 children at greatest risk of poverty from any reduction in child income support through an additional top-up, targeted payment.

The figures being suggested by the Labour Party have no basis. Any further reductions in universal child benefit will be modest and far less than the cuts already imposed by Fianna Fáil. There will be no reduction in 2012. We will set up an Expert group on Child Poverty and Protection to examine how to reprioritise all child income support payments* to protect the most vulnerable children while maintaining a universal benefit for all families

Labour has also committed to almost €1.2bn in welfare savings, but have not explained to the public how these savings will be achieved. It is important that all parties are honest about their plans. It is also extraordinary that Labour are happy to propose higher taxes on middle income families while protecting child benefit payments to the most wealthy.

Fine Gael also rejects Fianna Fáil’s plans to tax or means test Child Benefit:

If you means test Child Benefit all families above a certain threshold will lose Child Benefit altogether
If you tax Child Benefit, families could lose more than half of the payment

*Child Income Support Payments include Child Benefit, the Qualified Child Increase that is paid along with social welfare payments and the child related component of the Family Income Supplement.