Thursday, 3 May 2018

Ceisteanna (22)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

22. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to introduce a higher rate of a qualified child increase for children of 12 years of age and over in view of research by an organisation (details supplied) which shows the additional costs associated with adolescence; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19176/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Most weekly social welfare payments include an additional payment in respect of each qualified child up to age 18, which is extended to encompass older school/college going children to age 22 under certain circumstances. These are referred to as qualified child increases (IQCs). IQC payments do not of themselves constitute a specific social welfare scheme and entitlement to the appropriate primary adult payment must be established in the first instance. These payments provide targeted assistance that is directly linked with household income and thereby support low-income families.

In Budget 2018, the rate of qualified child increase was increased by €2 from €29.80 to €31.80 per week, an increase of 6.7% and the first such increase since 2010. The increase came into effect at the end of March 2018 at a cost of €28.5m in 2018 and €37m in a full year. The qualified child increase is one of a number of social welfare scheme provisions available to families on low incomes, including the Working Family Payment (formerly Family Income Supplement), the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance and the Back to Work Family Dividend.

I am aware of the research by the organisation mentioned and the findings relating to additional costs associated with adolescents. Research also shows that parents of younger children incur higher childcare costs than those with children aged 12 years and over. A targeted increase to children aged 12 years and over, while welcome to families with children in this category, would not be of any benefit to parents with younger children.

Additionally, from an operational perspective significant administrative resources would be required as in effect a two-tier system is being introduced, which is not possible to cost or estimate accurately at present. Such a proposal would have to be considered in an overall budgetary context.