Eligibility for child benefit needs to be expanded in light of what Clare Ógra Fianna Fáil have called “penny-pinching”.

At the Ógra National Council, Clare Ógra Fianna Fáil recently passed a motion which called on the Irish Government comprised of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party to expand the eligibility of child benefit for those in receipt of it.

Child Benefit is a monthly payment to the parents or guardians of children who are under 16. It is also paid for children under 18, if they are in full-time education or full-time training or if they have a disability and cannot support themselves. It is not paid for any child dependant aged 18 or older, even if they are in full-time education or training. The universal payment does not affect PRSI records and it is not taxable.

A monthly rate of €140 is the benefit for one child, €280 for two children, €420 for three, €560 for four, €700 for five, €840 for six, €980 for seven children and €1,120 for eight children. One and a half times the normal rate is applied for twins whereas the payment is double the normal monthly rate in the instances of triplets or other multiple births.

In their motion, Clare Ógra requested that child benefit be provided for the duration of second level education regardless of whether a child is eighteen or not.

Chairman of Clare Ógra, Fionn Sexton, prepared the motion after his own brother was taken off the benefit. The Miltown Malbay man said the money “makes all the difference and so many of my friends had the same issue in secondary school, so following my brother Oisín being taken off it, and hearing the outcry from local parents facing the same issue, I felt it is time to call the government to action on this crucial issue”.

David Griffin, Vice Chairman of Clare Ógra stated, “It’s nonsensical that a student’s family would qualify on Monday for children’s allowance and no longer qualify on Tuesday. Children’s allowance should be paid for the entirety of a students secondary level schooling. Removing the allowance from a small number of students for a short period of time makes no sense, and is nothing short of penny pinching”.

“Once someone turns eighteen the costs associated with education don’t magically disappear. In many cases students in Leaving Cert will have added costs associated with exams. I believe that consideration should also be given to the students in third level education that don’t receive the SUSI grant. In many of these cases students that don’t receive SUSI are in need of some financial support,” Treasurer Liam Hayes added.

Members of Clare Ógra have informed The Clare Echo they will be canvassing TDs and Senators to make them aware of the issue.

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