Ireland child benefit cuts will increase child poverty, claims rights group

The Children’s Rights Alliance has said it is “deeply disappointed” by the decision announced in Ireland’s austerity Budget yesterday to cut child benefit. Finance Minister Brian Lenihan announced a €10 cut in payments for each child, with an additional cut of €20 for three-child families.

The cut to child benefit was one of the many measures unveiled last night as part of the toughest budget in Ireland’s history. The package, part of a deal to secure a £72 billion bailout from the IMF and EU member states, included £5 billion of tax increases and spending cuts.

The Children’s Rights Alliance, a coalition of over 90 NGOs, has said the child benefit cuts will push more children into poverty, pointing out that the numbers of children living in poverty already increased by 38% from 2008 to 2009. The group said the lack of compensating measures to offset the benefit cuts were of particular concern.

It is thought that the double cut of €20 to families with three children will affect one in four families across Ireland.

The Alliance also criticised the Government’s choice to cut benefit while commiting funds to projects such as a bypass for Tralee town. The group said: “If the Government had made a different decision, families across Ireland could have been spared the €10 to child benefit.”

The group also stressed that larger families are more likely to experience poverty, and criticised the social welfare, education and health cuts that would also “have a long term effect on children as they grow up”.