A SURVEY by the National Women’s Council of Ireland entitled “The Importance of Child Benefit for Parents” in which 66.6% of respondents said that child benefit is a critical part of the family income.
The Child Benefit payment starting at €166 per month per child is the only payment a majority of parents receive for all costs related to their children from nappies, clothes & food to school books and childcare. Considering that the cost of childcare alone is on average €800 per month, this payment is completely inadequate. In fact, 200,000 children in Ireland are at risk of poverty.
After much deliberation about how best to cut the payment Mary Hanafin announced on RTE’s frontline proposals to slash the payment and also set three different levels of payment for low-income, middle-income and high-income earners. This is being touted as the best method of “sharing the pain”. The reality is that this will drive thousands of families, who are already struggling with wage cuts, levies & redundancies, below the poverty line. Comments from the aforementioned survey spells out the situation that will now face many working class families:
“The effects of child benefit being cut for me would mean I could no longer work as I could not afford childcare”.
“I think child benefit is very important. I rely on it every month to get nappies, clothes, shoes and essentials my son needs. Often, I have relied on it to get extra food and freeze it. Without it my budget would be stretched even tighter and I don’t think I would be able to manage”.
“Child Benefit keeps us off the breadline for one week in every month”.
A fraction of the funds that are going to the banks could be used to create a modern social welfare system and a nation wide state run childcare and nursery education system that would genuinely protect the vulnerable and provide jobs and childcare for thousands.