HERE'S a clever idea for the Government – within shooting distance of the next general election. Take a tried and trusted pillar of society's social support for families and replace it with a more complicated system where the majority of parents lose out financially.
And this new system will allow those families to go from getting the same benefit as everyone else to one where they are getting a lower level of payment compared to others.
Try explaining that one on the doorsteps for Election 2016.
The expert group report on child and family income supports is well researched and genuinely thought out. It goes beyond just the €2bn child benefit bill and seeks to restructure the €3bn worth of supports in this area.
Although it does have to be said, it failed to address the question of ensuring those on higher incomes took a proportionately adequate hit. But the recommendations in the report are politically toxic.
No doubt, if it was published a year ago, when it was actually completed, it would have added to the debate on the options ahead of the Budget, where €10 was hacked off the payment across the board.
But Social Protection Minister Joan Burton chose not to release it. She is showing no sign of urgency in wanting to make a policy decision on reforming the system.
The report will go to an Oireachtas committee and she is talking about further analysis.
Once a decision is taken, it will take 18 months to adjust the social welfare system to allow it to be implemented.
Following this timeline, you're into election territory. Forget about it. This report will start gathering dust.
Meanwhile, Joan Burton is set to become a minister who is always one report away from reform.