The IMF have added Child Benefit to silly season kite flying regarding Budget 2013 with their call for the means testing of the payment. The airwaves have been dominated all day with discussion of the payment and the use of it by families to pay for essentials, childcare and savings schemes. In addition to these comments remarks have been made by callers to Liveline and Today with Pat Kenny regarding the payment of the allowance to those not living in Ireland. Other remarks have been made by contributors regarding large families and whether the state should be supporting them.
The amount paid by the state for Child Benefit in 2010 (most current figures available) was €2.2bn paid to 591, 432 families in respect of 1, 124,003 children. (averaging 1.9 children per family)
Under EU regulations EU nationals resident in Ireland who have children living with them or in another EU country are entitled to claim Child Benefit. Irish people living in other EU states are entitled to claim benefit in the state in which they work. Indeed Irish people living in Northern Ireland and working in the Republic can claim Child Benefit in the Republic.
If you are not habitually resident in Ireland you cannot claim Child Benefit for your children who live in another EU state.
The number of children for whom child benefit is being paid who do not live in Ireland in 2010 was 7,741 in 4, 928 families at a cost of €15.4 million. This is approximately 0.077% of the €20bn Social Protection budget or 0.7% of the expenditure on Child Benefit . Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton has made approaches to the European Union to have the rules changed on entitlement to child benefit but there has been no change to date.
Since it effects less that o.1 % of the entire Social Protection budget one might hope when the matter is raised for discussion again that programme presenters and other analysts might correct the notion that the increase in and cost of Child Benefit is due to children not living in the state. What Child Benefit pays for and how it has been used to compensate and pay for services which are free to all users in many other EU member states is a matter for future posts on the issue.