Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Questions (230)

Declan Breathnach


230. Deputy Declan Breathnach asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the alternative supports in place for students in view of the decision to cease payments to parents in receipt of child benefit for students aged 18 to 22 years of age; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50484/19]

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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 their 18th birthday who are in full-time education, or who have a disability. Child Benefit is currently paid, as of end-October 2019 to over 635,500 families in respect of over 1.2 million children, with an estimated expenditure of more than €2 billion in 2018.

Given the universality of Child Benefit, extending entitlement beyond 18 years of age 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.

Alternative supports which families, on low incomes, may be able to avail of 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 supporting low-income families with older children participating in full-time education.