Child benefit still a target

FINANCE Minister Brian Lenihan said the Government is “determined” to overcome technical issues and end universal access to the full children’s allowance.

He said he wanted the weekly payment to be targeted at those who need it most. To ensure this happened he reiterated his plan to either tax the allowance or means test those entitled to it.

Either choice would end the tradition of paying an equal benefit to every child in the country regardless of their parents’ circumstances.

Mr Lenihan said there were “important technical issues” to be addressed with either a tax or means test, but that his Government was determined to sort the problems out.

“It is important that we target support for children in need,” he said.

At budget time, Mr Lenihan had announced children were in his sights as a source of potential savings.

Yesterday, he said he would not make any decision without consulting his cabinet colleagues first.

In an interview on RTÉ radio’s This Week he also said social welfare payments were liable for cuts.

He said civil service pay and the welfare budget accounted for approximately e40 billion of Government expenditure.

He said the opposition needed to recognise that when they were calling for significant savings these were the areas which would be affected.


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