TWO Northside mothers have described how possible cuts to child benefit will push them over the edge financially.
Single mother-of-three Sharon McKenna, from Primrose Grove, Darndale, said she’s already struggling to keep her head above water with a reduced income and increasing bills.
Ms McKenna, who has been unemployed since she was made redundant a few years ago, has a 14-year-old son Aaron, five-year-old son Cameron and two-year-old daughter Ava.
“I can barely live as it is,” she told Northside People.
“It’s very hard to run a household especially when the gas and ESB bills only seem to go up.
“It’ll be a big blow if the children’s allowance is reduced because that money helps us to survive.”
Another Darndale resident, Claire Darvy, who has two children aged 11 and six, said she is also finding it hard to make ends meet.
“I depend on the children’s allowance to pay bills and to put food on the table for the kids,” Ms Darvy told Northside People.
“It’s disgraceful to think that the Government would target this payment when you think of just how much money the politicians and ministers are on.”
The monthly child benefit payment is €140 for each of the first two children, e148 for the third child and €160 for each subsequent child. It is paid to 600,000 households and costs the State €2 billion a year.
Last week the Government said that despite speculation and rumour, the cuts to child benefit had not yet been discussed at Cabinet, but it was something they would have to consider in the run up to the budget.
Artane/Whitehall ward councillor Larry O’Toole (SF) is opposed to any cut to child benefit.
“The cut is not necessary,” he stated.
“The books can be balanced without it. If the Government wants to target high earners in the budget then it should go after their income. This would also be more beneficial for the economy.”
Cllr O’Toole referred to previous research carried out by the Department of Social Protection, which demonstrated the dependence of middle income families on child benefit.
“Its analysis found that households in the fourth and fifth of 10 income brackets fall below or onto the poverty line after paying their taxes and it is child benefit that then lifts them onto and over the line respectively,” Cllr O’Toole stated.
Meanwhile, Dublin North TD Brendan Ryan (Lab) said he was genuinely worried about the recommendations from an expert group to the Department of Social Protection regarding proposed changes to child benefit.
“It must be stated that no decisions have been made on this matter and at the moment we are commenting on leaks from an expert group’s report,” stated Deputy Ryan.
“However, if changes are to be made to child benefit then they need to be targeted at the wealthier families in the State and be achieved through taxation, as suggested by the Minister for Social Protection in July of this year.
“Real high earning individuals could be taxed for child benefit to achieve the required savings and spare further pain on low and middle income families.”