Dáil Éireann - Volume 508 - 06 October, 1999
Written Answers. - Child Support.
Ms Shortall Ms Shortall
78. Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs the timescale over which he will increase child benefit to £100 per month; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18870/99]
Mr. Spring Mr. Spring
80. Mr. Spring asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs his views on the Combat Poverty Agency recommendations that child benefit be doubled to £69 per for the first and second child and £92 per month for subsequent children in view of the fact Ireland has the second highest national rate of child poverty in Europe. [18877/99]
Mr. D. Ahern Mr. D. Ahern
Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern): I propose to take Questions Nos. 78 and 80 together.
The value of the child benefit scheme as an effective mechanism for the provision of child income support is reflected in the substantial investment which the Government makes in the scheme, at a full year cost of around £475 million per annum. The last budget provided for increases in child benefit of £3 per month for each of the first two children in a family and £4 per month for the third and subsequent children. This brought the monthly rates payable from September 1999 up to £34.50 and £46 respectively.
The Combat Poverty Agency – CPA – in its analysis of the report of the Expert Working Group on Child Care, recommended that child benefit rates should be doubled from the current levels over a three-year period. It suggested that increases of this order would make a substantial contribution to the costs of bringing up children irrespective of whether they are cared for primarily by their parents or by childcare providers. The agency noted that child benefit does not link provision for child care with employment status, it does not act as a disincentive to women's participation in the labour market, or create employment or poverty traps.
It is my intention that the potential of the child benefit scheme as an effective mechanism for the delivery of child income support should be exploited to the greatest possible extent.
The level of any further increase in child benefit is a matter for consideration in the context of the forthcoming budget.
Dáil Éireann 508 Written Answers. Child Support.