Joan Burton, Social Protection Minister for the Republic of Ireland, has rejected calls to scrap individual child benefit payments in the country.
Responding to a claim by Children’s Minister Frances Fitzegerald that the money might be better spent of funding extra childcare places, Burton said she was committed to universal payments.
According to a report in the Irish Independent, Fitzgerald said the Irish government currently devotes €2bn, or 10 per cent of its annual welfare budget, to child benefit payments, describing this as a “kind of Celtic tiger thing, with rates increasing for individual payments”.
The 62 year-old minister said that in Scandinavian countries, by contrast, working parents receive subsidised pre- and after-school childcare.
A spokesman for the Social Protection Minister, however, insisted that she was“strongly in favour of universal payments”, and said provision for extra childcare places had been included in next year’s budget.