Child Benefit is a monthly payment made to families with children in respect of all qualified children up to the age of 16 years. Between the ages of 16 and 18, payment continues for children who are in full-time education, or who have a disability. Child Benefit is currently paid to almost 632,000 families in respect of over 1.2 million children, with an estimated expenditure of €2.1 billion this year.
Payments cease when the child reaches 18 years of age. Any proposal to extend payment beyond the age of 18 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.
I trust that this helps clarify the matter for the Deputy.