I propose to take Questions Nos. 171 and 174 together.
As the legislation governing this new payment is currently being finalised as part of the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill 2005, and as the payment will be made by the Department of Social and Family Affairs using information on their database to which my Department currently has no access, I am not in a position to answer questions regarding the specific entitlements of individuals. I will, however, reply to the general questions raised and trust this will clarify the points of concern to the Deputies.
A new early child care supplement of €1,000 per annum is being introduced in respect of all children less than six years of age and will be effective from 1 April 2006. This will be a direct, non-taxable payment of €250 per quarter year, in respect of each eligible child, payable by the office of the Minister of State with responsibility for children. Payments will be processed by the Department of Social and Family Affairs, on an agency basis for the office of the Minister of State with responsibility for children. It will take some time to set the necessary arrangements in place, and it is likely that the first payment may not issue until September 2006.
As the payment is effective from 1 April 2006, a child who will be six in February 2006 will not qualify for the payment. A child whose sixth birthday falls in April 2006 will be eligible for the first quarterly payment only. Similarly, any payment in respect of an eligible child who will be six in July 2006, will only be made in respect of two quarters in 2006.