Parents of twins face losing extra child benefit in new cuts
PARENTS of twins and triplets face a threat to their higher child benefit payments after a value for money review found "no evidence" to justify them.
It comes in the wake of the revelation that parents of multiple births continue be paid up to twice the standard €140-per month child benefit rate -- although the value of their payments will fall as a result of the social welfare Budget cutbacks.
The value for money report commissioned by Department of Social Protection noted that parents of twins get monthly payments of €210 per month per child -- compared to payments of €140 for parents of single children. They earn a total of €45,360 per child until each child reaches 18, whereas parents of single children earn €30,240. And the monthly rates are even higher for triplets -- almost €300 per child. That amounts to €60,480 per child.
Parents with multiple births get three 'once-off' grants to reflect "peak expenditure points" -- €635 at birth, €635 at age four when they enter primary school, and €635 at age 12 when they enter secondary school. These grant payments (which are paid in a lump sum for multiple births and not per child) were not cut in the Budget.
The value for money report acknowledged that there were extra costs associated with rearing twins and triplets but said it could not find "objective evidence" to justify the significantly higher payments.
"Furthermore, it would seem that many of these costs are one-off in nature and it is perhaps surprising that the balance between recurrent support and one-off support is so heavily weighted in favour of the former," it said.
According to the most recent statistics, more than one million single children account for 97.2pc of those receiving child benefit; 30,963 twins account for 2.7pc of the total and 1,086 triplets account for 0.1pc. There are just 76 quadruplets (four children) or more, which means they statistically account for 0.0pc of the total.
The Department of Social Protection confirmed that the report had been considered in advance of the 2011 Budget -- which did not reduce the proportional size of their payments. It said it was a matter for Government to decide on whether the report's findings would be used to reduce child benefit payments for multiple births in next year's Budget.
The report's authors indicated that the balance between the 'once-off' grants and the higher child benefit payments should be "adjusted" to better reflect the costs associated with multiple births. And it called for more research to be carried out.
The report acknowledged the need for parents of twins and triplets to buy several of the same items (such as prams, buggies, cots, car seats, clothes, footwear and school books), which parents of single children were often able to 'recycle' through the family.