€14m benefits for children living abroad

Clodagh Sheehy

EU migrant workers here will get more than €14m this year in child benefit payments for offspring who do not live in this country.

The money is being paid to people from other EU states who are working here and are entitled to claim for children.

The Department of Social and Family Affairs said the bill for this form of payment will be €14.3m for this year alone.

About €1.4m a month is paid out for almost 8,000 children living in other EU states.

Minister Eamon O Cuiv said EU migrant workers may have an entitlement to child benefit and other family benefits under EU regulations.

Where a national of another EU state is working in Ireland, he or she is entitled to payment of these benefits, even if the person's children are living in the worker's home country.

The regulations, said the Minister, "co-ordinate social security systems and are designed to ensure that people are not disadvantaged by moving within the EU to take up work".


In response to a question from Cork Deputy Michael Creed, Mr O Cuiv said child benefit is currently being paid to a total of 4,975 people in this position.

The payments are being made in respect of 7,965 children resident in 17 different EU countries. A breakdown of how many children in each country was not readily available.

The estimated €14.3m cost for 2010 "represents less than 1pc of the total Child Benefit expenditure", he stressed.

According to the Central Statistics Office, 10pc of the population in Ireland is made up of non-Irish nationals. The majority are UK nationals (2.7pc), followed by other EU countries.

Migrant workers are not automatically entitled to social welfare payments on arrival in this country, they have to satisfy additional checks and conditions and confirm their entitlement every three months.

They must meet the Habitual Residence Condition which judges if they have established a connection with this country.

It is based on factors such as length of residency, employment and family connections.