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Double one-off child benefit and social welfare payments on cards in Budget

  • €5bn in surplus tax revenue would see extra cash paid out to families as part of cost-of-living package
  • Double payment of all social welfare rates also on cards
  • Re-introduction of €200 energy payment

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Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has money to spend

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has money to spend

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The Government is considering a double payment of the €140-a-month child benefit payment as part of a cost-of-living package to be announced on Budget day.

The move would be a huge boost to parents, who would be in line for a €280 one-off payment if they have one child or €560 if they have two.

A family with three children would receive €840 if the policy is agreed by the coalition partners.

A family with twins would also get €840 as they receive one-and-a-half times the normal rate per child.

Under plans being discussed by Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe, Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath and Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys, the payment would be made before Christmas.

Other plans being discussed by Minister Donohoe and Minister McGrath include a double payment of all welfare rates in the coming weeks along with a re-introduction of the €200 electricity credit.

They are exploring whether a double payment of the State pension, jobseeker allowance, carers allowance and disability benefits among other welfare supports can be paid out to help address record rates of inflation- this would be in addition to the Christmas Bonus payment.

This means people in receipt of welfare payments could be in line for two double payments before the end of the year. The €200 electricity credit, which was paid to every household earlier this year, is also likely to be taken off bills in the final months of the year.

A significant surplus in tax revenue, which currently stands at €5bn for the first six months of the year, will be used to pay for the double child benefit payment and other cost-of-living measures.

However, it is unlikely that the entire amount, which is mostly made up of corporate tax returns, will be spent on cost-of-living measures.

The package will be announced alongside the Budget on September 27, and the agreed spending policies will come in to effect before the end of the year.

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A bonus payment of the child benefit is seen as a universal measure as it would assist all families struggling with the cost of childcare on top of other necessary expenditures that have rocketed due to record levels of inflation.

There has been no increase in child benefit since 2016 when it was increased by €5 to €140 by the Fine Gael and Labour government ahead of the general election.

Child benefit is never included in the traditional Christmas bonus paid to recipients of welfare payments such as the state pension, Jobseeker’s Allowance and carer’s allowance most Decembers.

The benefit has been criticised in the past as it is not targeted at those who need it most and is instead paid to anyone who has children under 16.

At the height of the financial crash, Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary sparked a debate by calling for the benefit to be scrapped and labelling it “the Government subsidising people to have sex”.

He said the payment should be focused on single parents and people who are less well-off.

However, the payment has become a staple of Irish society, and government ministers are reluctant to change it or introduce a means-tested system.

The Green Party has called for cost-of-living measures to be targeted, but Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are eager to introduce policies that will alleviate the financial strain of inflation on low- and middle-income earners.

However, a key objective for all three coalition parties has been to address the cost of childcare.

The recently published Tax Strategy Group papers said 632,000 families are receiving a monthly child benefit payment in respect of 1.2 million children.

A double payment will cost around €170m.

The tax papers did not examine the cost of increasing child benefit or giving a double payment.

Instead, they looked at increasing all welfare rates across the board by €15 or €10.

They also looked at the cost of increasing the working family payment earnings thresholds for all family sizes by €20.

They further examined the possibility of an increase of €8 for qualified children aged under 12 and €14 for children 12 and over. These payments are made on top of welfare supports such as Jobseeker’s Allowance or carer’s allowance.

The current top rates are €40 for under-12s and €48 for over-12s.

The Government is still discussing potential increases in welfare payments ahead of the Budget, and the Tax Strategy Group papers are drafted to give it the options available and the cost of implementing the measures.


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