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No plans for government to means test child benefit

Update 10.35pm: There are no plans to means test child benefit.

Regina Doherty had suggested that the child benefit payment could be reduced for some higher-income households to allow for free childcare for all.

Concerns were raised that a proposed threshold of €100,000 was too low and that it would make the system unfair.

Business Minister Heather Humphreys says it's not part of current government plans.

"We protected the universal nature of the child benefit during the recession and I don't see why we should change it at this stage," she said.

"Means testing child benefit is not being considered by the government and is not in the programme for government.

"It is of crucial importance to the mother. I know that family income can be high in some cases, but that doesn't always mean the mother has access to it all.

"This has been a payment to mothers. It has been an important contribution over the years in helping children.

"That's important to say and we'll all think of instances where the children's allowance payment was used for the benefit of any of us who were brought up in Ireland."

Original story 12.02pm: Child benefit could be cut for households with incomes over €100,000

Child benefit could soon be cut for households with annual incomes over €100,000.

The Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty says she is going to look at reducing payments for higher earners to pay for childcare for all.

Means testing would be used to identify who is affected.

But SIPTU's Michael Taft thinks the proposed income threshold is too low.

He said: "The average income for a full time employee is nearly €45,000 so when you're not really going after high income households you are actually going after pretty much average incomes or just slightly above.

"So that does not seem very equitable."

Regina Doherty.

- Digital Desk