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 their 18th birthday who are in full-time education, or who have a disability. Child Benefit is currently paid, as of end-June 2019 to almost 632,000 families in respect of nearly 1.2 million children, with an estimated expenditure of more than €2 billion in 2018.
Given the universality of Child Benefit, extending entitlement to parents of full time students in second level education who are over 18 years of age is not currently considered 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. The estimated cost of extending child benefit as proposed is estimated to be in the region of €80-100 million.
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.