Monday 22 January 2018

Government's increase in child benefit misses the point

Paul and Elizabeth McDonnell and their children Charlotte, Emily (with cat Mollie), Madeline and Noah with 2 of their Alpacas Fennela and Luna Rosa on their farm at Killeigh, Co. Laois.
Picture: Alf Harvey/HRPhoto.ie
Paul and Elizabeth McDonnell and their children Charlotte, Emily (with cat Mollie), Madeline and Noah with 2 of their Alpacas Fennela and Luna Rosa on their farm at Killeigh, Co. Laois. Picture: Alf Harvey/HRPhoto.ie

THE MacDonnell family welcome the increase in child benefit since the start of the year but do not feel it will benefit the four-child family a great deal.

Elizabeth MacDonnell, who lives with her husband Paul in Co Laois, said that while she welcomes the €5 increase which was announced in October’s Budget, she doesn’t believe that this relief for families will have a massive impact.

She thinks the Government is still failing to address one of the bigger issues which young families are faced with everyday: the rising cost of childcare.

“We run a farm, but we also both work full-time. I work up to four days per week and my husband works full-time,” Ms MacDonnell, who also writes the blog ‘Life on Hushabye Farm’, explained.

“Childcare is a huge cost,” she said.

The optician has three daughters and one son, Charlotte, Emily, Madeline and Noah, and they range between three and eight years old.

The family live on Husabye Farm close to Mountmellick, which is home to a herd of alpacas.

“It is great to see an increase in the child benefit. But €240 over the space of a year will go nowhere with four children. To be honest, the focus of the Government is just too narrow.

“They focus on this — the holding of the flags and saying they are giving something back — but, actually, they are not addressing one of the biggest problems for parents, which is actually childcare costs.”

She feels that the Government has made no efforts towards making the cost of childcare tax deductible or facilitating tax credits for it, which she believes would have “a much bigger impact” than extra child benefit payouts.

Irish Independent

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