TD wants school attendance payments to replace child benefit

Independent TD Denis Naughten has claimed that more than €100 million could be saved annually by replacing child benefit payments with school attendance payments.

Independent TD Denis Naughten has claimed that more than €100 million could be saved annually by replacing child benefit payments with school attendance payments. Photograph:  Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times

Independent TD Denis Naughten has claimed that more than €100 million could be saved annually by replacing child benefit payments with school attendance payments. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times

Sat, Aug 24, 2013, 01:45

He said such a measure would end the €13.2 million annual payment to children not resident in Ireland, tackle bureaucracy and truancy as well as child benefit fraud of up to €36 million a year.

According to the TD, who lost the Fine Gael whip in 2011 because of his opposition to Roscommon hospital downgrading, “by abolishing child benefit for school age children and replacing it with a school attendance payment, savings of between €100 million and €135 million could be achieved while still protecting the rate of payment to families who are relying on this monthly allowance.”

Annually, the control section of the Department of Social Protection brings in savings of €75 million to €85 million under the child benefit scheme, he pointed out.

A move from the current system would alleviate the “considerable administrative burden” on the department, which issues over 600,000 letters every year.

“I believe that if the payment was no longer a universal child benefit payment, then payments to children outside the State could be ceased. In its place, child benefit would only be paid up to school-going age at which point it would be replaced by a new school attendance payment that is paid up to a child’s 18th birthday.”

He said “such a scheme would be more than a fraud prevention measure; it would also help to address the issue of truancy within our school system and cut down on bureaucracy.”

“The school attendance payment would be an added incentive for some parents to ensure that their child has a full attendance at school,” Mr Naughten said.