Statements on Finance

6th October 2011

I thank the Minister and welcome him to the House. I like the way he tells it the way it is but I do not always like what he tells us. He is in the midst of budget preparations and I would like to take this opportunity to remind him of child benefit payment. Child benefit is based on the principle of horizontal equity and is about income distribution from those without children to those with children, because many of us will benefit through our pensions from those children when they grow up. It cannot be looked at simplistically. Often it is proposed to tax or means test child benefit but as the Children’s Right Alliance has proved, this would be a very costly administrative exercise and the previous Government eventually came around to this position. I can provide the Minister with much research on this from the UK and other countries. Will the Minister confirm that child benefit payment should remain universal and paid equally to all children? As the Supreme Court stated, child benefit is children’s money and it should be paid equally to all children and not taxed.

Child poverty increased to 9% in 2009 from 6% in 2008 and is expected to increase again. Will the Minister pay particular attention to not reducing vital budgets such as child income supports and services for vulnerable children? Perhaps I will be able to speak more to the Minister about this on another opportunity.