Family groups unite to oppose child benefit cuts


FIVE ORGANISATIONS involved with different aspects of family life have come together to oppose cuts in child benefit in the forthcoming budget.

A joint press conference was held yesterday in Dublin by Pacub (Protest against child-unfriendly budget); One Family, representing one-parent families; Children’s Rights Alliance; One-Parent Exchange Network (Open), and the National Women’s Council of Ireland.

Chairing the conference, Irish Independent personal finance editor Charlie Weston said the Government seemed determined to cut the annual bill of some €2.5 billion for child benefit and introduce “some sort of a crude three-tier system”.

Treasa Dovander of Pacub said: “Last week I spoke to a mother in tears. If child benefit is cut next month, her choice is to either heat her home or to buy winter coats for her children, but not both.

“She can’t afford to pay creche fees and she can’t afford not to work. Their mortgage was based on a double income.

“That mother represents just one of the 16,000 families who signed the Pacub petition, calling on the Government to leave child benefit alone. She and thousands like her are why Pacub was set up by a voluntary group of parents in April of this year.”

Frances Byrne of Open said her organisation shared “the anger and concern that children would be ‘in the sights’ of our Government”.

She said a “tiered system”, as suggested by Minister for Social and Family Affairs Mary Hanafin on RTÉ, of an across-the-board cut but with compensation for lower-income recipients, would be “very divisive”.

Candy Murphy of One Family said a benefit reduction would make childcare more expensive, when costs in Ireland were “already the highest in Europe”.

Orla O’Connor of the women’s council said her organisation had consistently supported universal child benefit because the payment, “goes directly to the mother”.