YFG propose introduction of voucher scheme for child benefit

New system would ensure that Child Benefit is used in the best interests of the child

Among many social welfare proposals being discussed at the Young Fine Gael (YFG) Summer School in Bundoran this weekend (July 24th -26th) is a proposal that Child Benefit should be distributed in the form of vouchers to ensure that it is used directly for the benefit of the child.

These vouchers would be redeemable in the Republic of Ireland for groceries, children's clothes, educational materials and junior sports equipment and could not be used for the purchase of alcohol or for use in any leisure activities.

YFG President Barry Walsh has said: "Due to the crisis in the public finances, there have been calls for cuts to Child Benefit. As an alternative to this, and to ensure that child benefit can only be spent in the 26 counties, YFG members are proposing a system which would ensure that payments made to the parents of children would directly benefit the child through a voucher scheme.

"At a time of scarce resources, it is vital that we achieve value for money in all areas of social welfare spending. A situation whereby parents are free to spend Child Benefit as they see fit - including in ways which may not be in the best interests of a child - is unsatisfactory. Many parents use Child Benefit as a personal income supplement, which runs contrary to the concept of the payment. A voucher system would ensure that Child Benefit is used to pay for goods or services suited to the needs of the child- and not for the purchase of alcohol, for use in any leisure activities, or in any way which would allow them to be used for the benefit of the adult.

"This is a sensible proposal which would ensure maximum value for a large part of our social welfare spending at a time of economic hardship."

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