There are currently three different weekly rates of child dependant allowances payable to social welfare recipients, €16.80, €19.30 – which applies to one parent family payment, invalidity pension and retirement pension – and €21.60. Half rate allowances may also be paid in respect of a child in certain circumstances, for example where both of the child's parents are receiving a social welfare payment, or where one parent has earnings over a prescribed amount.
The gains from standardising the rates of allowances would have to be weighed against the costs. In this regard to standardise the three main rates of allowances at the highest rate of €21.60 would mean that approximately 251,500 payments would be increased at a cost of approximately of €60 million annually. Since the time of the report of the Commission on Social Welfare, which recommended a rationalisation of the rates of child dependant allowances, the number of different rates has been reduced from 36 down to the current three. The policy direction followed since 1994 by successive Governments has been to concentrate resources for child income support on the child benefit scheme which is neutral vis-à-vis the employment status of the parents and does not contribute to poverty traps.