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Public back means-tested child benefit

PLANS to means-test child benefit have received overwhelming support from the public. A national poll shows that a significant majority would accept child benefit being allocated on a rate according to income.

The new poll comes as a massive boost to Social Protection Minister Joan Burton, who must take the knife to a range of allowances in the budget.

Burton, whose Department is behind the mooted means-testing, ranks as the most popular of six high profile ministers currently in Government.

In the wide-ranging IPSOS/ MRBI poll there is strong opposition to plans to introduce a property tax and water charges.

The research, published by The Irish Times, shows that 71pc are in favour of bringing in means-testing which would ultimately reduce benefits paid to those in a wealthy income bracket.

A total of 18pc said that child benefit should continue to be paid at the current rate, 8pc opted for a cut and just 2pc had no opinion.


Government sources have indicated that one option is the idea of different bands of child welfare payments, according to income levels.

Another option is that there would be a cut off rate for individuals above a certain level of income.

Joan Burton is the only Minister whose satisfaction rating exceeds her dissatisfaction ration.

But Minister for Health James Reilly comes in last with 70pc of those questioned dissatisfied with his performance.

Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan was only slightly ahead of Minister Reilly, followed by Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin.

A total of 66pc believe that the property tax is a bad idea while 28pc supported the move.

Voters in the AB section who are generally better off are the most supportive of a property tax. And the least well-off DE sector are the most strongly opposed.

The Government is understood to be considering a flat-rate charge of €100 property tax charge for individuals such as pensioners and low-income families.

The full property tax is expected to be self-assessed and based upon market values.