Cabinet to be briefed on child benefit
Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton: said she believes property tax is necessary
A report being brought to Cabinet tomorrow on child benefit reform recommends the retention of ?a strong universal payment? to all families, Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton has confirmed.
The report, produced by an expert group set up in 2011, raises the possibility of taxing the benefit but describes as preferable a two-tier system of paying a flat rate benefit, supplemented by top-ups.
Speaking in Dublin this morning, Ms Burton said she didn?t want to comment in detail until the report was published but noted it ?indicates a strong payment to families ? a strong universal payment - and I think that is very welcome; it also has proposals in relation to targeting and it looks at a number of options in that regard?.
The Minsiter said it was important to recognise child benefit was ?very important to parents, it?s very important to women who are 96 per cent of the recipients as the caring parents, it?s a huge factor in family budgets?.
But she said, ?given that we pay a lot of cash benefits directly?, Ireland had to ask why outcomes for families at risk of poverty were not as good as those in Scandinavia. In this regard, the Government has already signalled it plans to put extra resources into preschool and after-school services.
In the last Budget, the child benefit rate was cut by €10 to €130 for the first two children and by €18 a month for the third child in the budget, yielding a saving of €140 million. The benefit is paid to 600,000 households and costs the State close to €2 billion a year.
Asked about the property tax, and whether she agreed with some Dublin TDs that it was unfair to homeowners in the county, she replied: ?We are waiting to see more of the detail from Revenue Commissioner as to how it will work out around the country.?
But the Dublin West TD stressed: ?I think the property tax is necessary. It was agreed by the previous Fianna Fail government, although they jumped off once, if you like, in opposition.? She added that amendments announced by the Minister for Finance last week would result in some people, particularly in local authority properties, facing ?significantly lower charges than were initially indicated?.