No sooner had the government come out with its proposal for a referendum on the rights of children it announced that they are planning cuts to child benefit. This is an exercise in sheer cynicism and hypocrisy if ever there was one!
According to economist Michael Taft, households with more than two children will receive €63 less in income each month. Given the disgraceful absence of free childcare or free GP services and healthcare in Ireland child benefit is an important supplement to the income of hard pressed families and lone parents.
Child benefit should be provided to recognise not only the cost of childcare but also the general cost of raising children.
No doubt government spin doctors will talk of women from very well off backgrounds receiving supposedly “generous” child benefit payments as an argument to introduce means testing of this allowance. This has been the same argument used to support the re-introduction of third level fees.
Instead of means testing such benefits a system of progressive taxation should be introduced to tax the super rich and big business.
Shamefully Fergus Finlay (chief executive of the children’s charity Barnardos) has come out in support of this proposal arguing that child benefit payments should be made “more modest”.
We need a mass movement on the streets before the budget to make sure the government is forced climb down on this proposal.