Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Questions (864)

John Brady


864. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated full-year cost of extending child benefit to those aged 18 and 19 years of age in 2020. [23308/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Child Benefit is a monthly payment made to families with children in respect of all qualified children up to the age of 16 years. The payment continues to be paid in respect of children up to the age of 18 years where they are in full-time education or have a disability. Child Benefit is currently paid to almost 632,000 families in respect of nearly 1.2 million children, with an estimated expenditure of more than €2 billion in 2018.

We have previously estimated the annual cost of extending child benefit to include 18 and 19 year olds in full-time secondary education. Based on Department of Education and Skills figures for leaving certificate June 2019, the cost of this measure alone would be in the region of €80 million.

It is not possible to give the full-year estimated cost of extending child benefit to all those who are aged 18 and 19 years of age because of the open ended nature of the question. The Deputy’s question, which seems to include all people aged 18 and 19 years, and does not limit it to those in full-time education, would therefore give rise to costs substantially in excess of, and multiples of, this figure.

Given the universality of Child Benefit, extending entitlement to parents of people who are aged 18 and 19 years would not be a targeted approach. The adoption of such a proposal would have significant cost implications and would have to be considered in an overall budgetary context.

Families on low incomes may be able to avail of a number of social welfare schemes that support children in full-time education until the age of 22, including:

- Increase for a Qualified Child (IQCs) with primary social welfare payments;

- the Working Family Payment for low-paid employees with children;

- the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance.

These schemes provide targeted assistance that is directly linked to household income and thereby support low-income families with older children participating in full-time education.