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 until their 18th birthday in respect of children who are in full-time education, or who have a disability. Child benefit is currently paid, as of end-August 2020, to over 638,200 families in respect of over 1.2 million children with an estimated expenditure of more than €2 billion in 2019.
There are no current plans to create an additional payment in respect of students in low income families. Families on low incomes may be able to avail of a number of existing 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.
Extending Child Benefit to full time students in second level education who are over 18 years of age would have significant cost implications and would have to be considered in an overall budgetary context.