Mother disputes State’s claim

A woman seeking backdated child benefit payments for her son has disputed the State’s claims that her family’s basic needs were “more than adequately met” within the direct provision system.

The High Court was hearing continuing arguments in the test case by the woman and child aimed at securing backdated payments. They claim the boy is entitled to payments from either his birth in late 2007 or when benefit was first sought in early 2008.

The State disputes any entitlement to child benefit before May 2012, when the parents’ applications for subsidiary protection were granted.

In an affidavit for the State, Tina Burns, a senior official in the Department of Social Protection, said entitlement to welfare payments was, until May 2004, based on being ordinarily resident in the State, meaning non-Irish nationals here could qualify for payments. Subsequently the rule was changed making entitlement to child benefit dependent on being habitually resident.

The woman and her husband chose to live in direct provision from 2006 and their son lived with them from birth, she said. They received total weekly allowances of €47.80, plus exceptional needs payments of €1,592, and had access to several other services. The child also got a back-to-school clothing and footwear allowance in 2011.

The case will resume in the law term opening May 25.


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