Child-benefit reform proposals to be published today

Proposed changes to the child benefit system are to be published today in a new report on child and family income support.

The report by the advisory group on tax and social welfare, which was ordered by the Social Protection Minister Joan Burton, explores ways to reduce the cost of child benefit to the State.

Child benefit is paid to around 500,000 households in Ireland regardless of their income. Minister Burton has said she wants to retain a universal child-benefit payment, which the expert group reportedly agrees with.

Its report, which has been widely leaked to the media, is understood to include a proposal to cut the base monthly rate of child benefit by €20 to €110, possibly with the negative effects of this measure supplemented by top-ups for low-income families.

The group also looked at means-testing, but is understood not to favour this option. Taxing the payment has not been ruled out and would mean reducing the payment by 20% or 41% in line with the tax rates.

Middle-income families would have the most to lose in any change, whether the Government opts to tax the payment or chooses to cut the basic child benefit rate. The rate has already been cut by €36 per month in the last three years.

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