Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Charities back child benefit plans

A special advisory group appointed by Social Protection Minister Joan Burton recommended cuts to child benefits

Two of the country's biggest children's charities have declared their support for controversial recommendations to introduce two-tier child benefit payments.

Barnardos and the Children's Rights Alliance back Government advice for lower income families to receive more from the state than well-off parents.

Barnardos chief executive Fergus Finlay said the current universal payments system should be reformed, because the money does not always go where it should.

"The proposed reduction as reported in media of 40 euro per child is too big a drop in the monthly incomes of families who are already struggling," said Mr Finlay.

"Any reduction must be phased in over time and must be countered by an increase in income and service supports for low income families."

A special advisory group appointed by Social Protection Minister Joan Burton recommended cuts to child benefits, which could see some families lose out on hundreds of euro every month.

It suggested a universal flat rate, but said a two-tier system should be introduced that would see low-income families receive top-up payments to the flat rate.

The proposals, it claimed, could save Ms Burton's department 200 million euro a year.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny insisted the Government had not yet seen the group's report so no decision had been made on its recommendations.

However, the Taoiseach added that all decisions involving budgetary matters would be made by the Cabinet alone.

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