Ó Snodaigh publishes 10 reasons not to cut child benefit
Sinn Féin Social Protection spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh has published ten reasons not to cut child benefit in next week’s budget.
Speaking this morning Deputy Ó Snodaigh said the government has a straight choice next week between targeting the least well off or targeting wealth.
“The myth that there are no choices in this budget has been laid bare for all to see. Sinn Féin has shown that there are alternatives to austerity.
“Child benefit is a payment that families depend on each month to put food on the table or to pay heating and electricity bills. It should not be cut.
“Sinn Féin proposes a 48% tax on income over €100,000 which would bring in €365 million, more than any propose cut in child benefit.
“Today I am outlining ten reasons why Sinn Féin believes Child Benefit should not be cut.
“The government has a straight choice. It can either target children or it can introduce a new higher rate of tax on income over €100,000. It can continue targeting those who have already borne the brunt of the crisis or it can begin to target wealth.”
10 reasons why the Minister should not cut child benefit
- The incomes of households with children are already
falling further and faster. The CSO Survey on Income and Living Conditions
demonstrates that the incomes of households with children fell five times
more than the incomes of childless households between 2009 and 2010
(latest figures available).
- Households with children are three times more
likely to be in debt arising from ordinary living expenses than
households without children.
- The department’s own value for money review of
child benefit published in 2010 demonstrates the dependence
of middle income families on child benefit. It’s
analysis found that households in the 4th and 5th of ten income brackets
fall below or onto the poverty line after paying their taxes and it is
child benefit that then lifts them onto and over the line respectively.
These families will not qualify for any top-up. These are the
families that pay for everything and are entitled to nothing.
- It is a myth that cutting child benefit is just
about taking it away from people who don’t need it. The vast
majority, between 60 and 64%, of families will not qualify for any top-up once
the across the board cut is made. The only feasible way for the
minister to top-up certain families is to do so via the qualified child
increase component of means-tested social welfare payments and possibly by
also increasing FIS payments. A PQ reply that from the Minister
demonstrates that 64% of families in receipt of child benefit are not in
receipt of any means-tested social welfare payment. This figure falls to
60% when FIS is included.
- The cost of administering the child benefit
scheme would sky rocket if a means-test were introduced for any part of it
and unacceptable processing delays would inevitably become a feature.
Not only would you have to means-test upon initial application but
you would have to repeat this test and repeatedly adjust the payment
everytime a family’s financial circumstances change e.g. if they got an
extra hour of work one week. In November the Minister informed us
that working families who are in poverty and who applied for FIS in June
of this year may be waiting as long as until April next year for a
decision on their claims. Similar administrative back logs apply to
most means-tested schemes and would undoubtedly apply to the top-up.
- Child care and after school care are extremely
expensive. In terms of affordability Ireland has almost the worst
child care and after school care provision in Europe. Working families with young children are
spending up to 41% of their income on child care.
- Despite programme for government commitments, basic
healthcare for children is extremely expensive. According
to a report by the European Observatory, published at the end of November
this year, Ireland is the only country that does not offer universal
coverage of primary care. The average cost of a GP visit here is €51
compared to €22 in France. Ireland is one of only three countries to
charge individuals for essential prescription drugs and common medicines
are many multiples more expensive to purchase in Ireland than elsewhere.
We are one of only six countries to charge for attending hospital
emergency departments. It says the hospital charge is much higher here
than elsewhere – €100 compared to only €2-€30 in the other countries that
- According to the Energy Regulator families
with children are having the most problems falling into arrears on their
- Maintaining the same level of child benefit
payment for everybody means there is no
disincentive to work.
- It would be fairer, simpler and economically sounder to introduce a third rate of income tax on all high earners.