Solution to Child benefit issue?

Skin

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It has been argued that wealthy people should pay a tax on their child benefit. On the flip side it had been argued that child benefit should be universal without discrimination. Both arguements have been convincing and the issue I believe is a difficult one.
So below, is my proposed 'solution' to the issue. Bearing in mind that every detail, nuance and hiccup cannot feasibly be addressed on the pages on P.ie, is it possible that the idea below could begin to resolve the dispute and perhaps be used for other issues concerning welfare payments at least?

*************

Focusing on Child Benefit for the moment.

Every child in the country is now issued with a PPS number from birth. Why not issue parents with a Social welfare chip card (similar to a laser card) where the child benefit is lodged.

What is child benefit for? Holiday deposits? No. Designer handbags? No. Iphones & Ipads? No.

It is for, obviously, the welfare of the child. It is for the cost of nappies, cots & prams. It is for doctor visits and medicines. It is for kids clothes, school unifoms & books, it is for sports wear and extra ciricular education. And if necessary it can be used for selected toys in toy stores.

So using the availabilty of modern technology, using the resources of the numerous technology companies both Irish and foreign that are based in Ireland. Using the resources of the CSO (who calculate the cost of goods in this country), a register is formed of "Child Benefit Friendly Goods", for want of a better name.

So it works like this. I do my weekly grocery in Lidl or Tesco or wherever. The cost comes to €150.00. Of this €150.00, say €35.00 is for goods for my child. At the cash register, I pay in the normal way but I also submit my Social Welfare card which is then scanned (like the rewards cards issued by supermarkets). The cash register will then deduct €35.00 from my shopping bill, leaving me with a cash bill for €115.00. Thereby, ensuring that my child benefit is being spent on what it was intended for.

Similarily for doctors visits and pharmacists, prescriptions made out in the name of my child will be paid for with the child benefit. Book stores will have a register of what books are for child education rather than adult education or entertainment and so on. Such a register of goods and services for the benefit of children can easily be made.



Before anyone says "it cant be done" or can think of hole in the system, surely the basis of a fair and equitable system now exists. Any identifible problems can be ironed out over time.

The great thing about this is, that parents with repeatedly ill children, or with special educational needs, need not be burdened with the stress of wondering how they are going to cope with the bills. Similarly, wealthy parents (who can also avail of this system for the benefit of their child - there is no discrimination in the system), will not be able to put the child benefit towards luxury childrens items such as Playstation or Wii's or whatever. They will have to fork it out for themselves.



Thoughts please.
 


j26

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It's a decent attempt at a solution, but frankly it's pointless

A child will easily consume the full amount of child benefit. They're bloody leeches, I tell you!!

Seriously though, between food, clothes, childcare, medical issues, baby equipment, school books and all the other things kids want/need, and the increase in incidental costs (e.g. do you have any idea how fast 1 year old twins can fill a wheelie bin? :eek:), you can be reasonably certain that in most circumstances people spend more than 40 quid a week on their child. My childcare bill alone is €300 a week for 4 days (and I count myself lucky to have such a decent rate)

Then there are the other issues - the "Voluntary contributions" to schools, the social pressures that kick in at a surprisingly young age, holidays (I note you excluded holidays, but who are you to say that a childs welfare wouldn't benefit from a holiday?)


If people want to buy their Gucci or Prada they can just spend away on the child benefit for the child and use their own money for their own treats, so there's little point in setting up an expensive administration to achieve precisely nothing.
 

Skin

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Firstly, I have a child, and I know how much a child can consume. But that is not the point. The point is, with a "child benefit friendly register", only goods and services deemed necessary (obviously that would have to debated) would be considered. For instance, you dont buy new prams every month, nor cots, nor school uniforms or books. You make a fair point about holidays, but as I said in the intro every nuance or hiccup in the proposal cannot be ironed out here, but what about holidays that centre on childrens activities, that provide facilities for children with special needs? They could be classed as "child benefit friendly". Also it could be limited to holidays in Ireland only. Think of the investment by the tourist industry to cater for this market, creating jobs in Ireland. Thus anyone booking a two week holiday to Santa Ponza, with a creche facility would not qualify.
You also make the point about spending away on child benefit. Presumably you mean someone could buy €150 worth of nappies, then head to town with their own money to buy whatever? Yes, that is true, but by using modern technology, that could be avoided. You say you have two children, so what if I were to say that if you attempted to buy €300 worth of nappies in any one month and then your child became ill. Then you have to fork out for the medicine yourself. Or particular types of goods, such as nappies, might not receive a full discount but a partial discount. Thereby, disincentivising you to splash out on nappies.
 
Last edited:

Baron von Biffo

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May 16, 2007
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It has been argued that wealthy people should pay a tax on their child benefit. On the flip side it had been argued that child benefit should be universal without discrimination. Both arguements have been convincing and the issue I believe is a difficult one.
So below, is my proposed 'solution' to the issue. Bearing in mind that every detail, nuance and hiccup cannot feasibly be addressed on the pages on P.ie, is it possible that the idea below could begin to resolve the dispute and perhaps be used for other issues concerning welfare payments at least?

*************

Focusing on Child Benefit for the moment.

Every child in the country is now issued with a PPS number from birth. Why not issue parents with a Social welfare chip card (similar to a laser card) where the child benefit is lodged.

What is child benefit for? Holiday deposits? No. Designer handbags? No. Iphones & Ipads? No.

It is for, obviously, the welfare of the child. It is for the cost of nappies, cots & prams. It is for doctor visits and medicines. It is for kids clothes, school unifoms & books, it is for sports wear and extra ciricular education. And if necessary it can be used for selected toys in toy stores.

So using the availabilty of modern technology, using the resources of the numerous technology companies both Irish and foreign that are based in Ireland. Using the resources of the CSO (who calculate the cost of goods in this country), a register is formed of "Child Benefit Friendly Goods", for want of a better name.

So it works like this. I do my weekly grocery in Lidl or Tesco or wherever. The cost comes to €150.00. Of this €150.00, say €35.00 is for goods for my child. At the cash register, I pay in the normal way but I also submit my Social Welfare card which is then scanned (like the rewards cards issued by supermarkets). The cash register will then deduct €35.00 from my shopping bill, leaving me with a cash bill for €115.00. Thereby, ensuring that my child benefit is being spent on what it was intended for.

Similarily for doctors visits and pharmacists, prescriptions made out in the name of my child will be paid for with the child benefit. Book stores will have a register of what books are for child education rather than adult education or entertainment and so on. Such a register of goods and services for the benefit of children can easily be made.

Before anyone says "it cant be done" or can think of hole in the system, surely the basis of a fair and equitable system now exists. Any identifible problems can be ironed out over time.

The great thing about this is, that parents with repeatedly ill children, or with special educational needs, need not be burdened with the stress of wondering how they are going to cope with the bills. Similarly, wealthy parents (who can also avail of this system for the benefit of their child - there is no discrimination in the system), will not be able to put the child benefit towards luxury childrens items such as Playstation or Wii's or whatever. They will have to fork it out for themselves.

Thoughts please.
I'd be a bit worried about the toys and books. I know you're being a bit sentimental but they wont thank you for it in the long run. Children don't need fripperies like that. Two bowls of stirabout a day and teach them to work at 4 that's what they really need.

You'd need some sort of tagging system as well to ensure the goods were actually used for the child and not swapped for drink. Random checks of the child's faeces to make sure they, not the parents, ate the food. That sort of think. You can't be too careful you know.
 

livingstone

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24,506
It doesn't address the issue, which is whether wealthy parents should receive funding for the upbringing of their child. As has been pointed out, all parents will continue to receive the same funds, but the products they can spend it on are limited, but given the ease with which the child benefit amount can be spent on the products which would be included, wealthy parents would easily and legitimately use their child benefit.

The only scenario it might address is parents who do need the funding but who might nonetheless use it for alcohol or cigarettes to the detriment of the child. I think, though, that those situations are probably reasonably rare and in cases where parents aren't even spending €40 per week on their kids (between food, clothes, education costs, household bills etc) then it should probably be case for social services anyway.

Ultimately the costs to the exchequer are the same, but the cost of setting up and administering the system would, I think, be huge.
 

j26

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But what benefit would it achieve?

It's a no-brainer that people would use the child benefit card to purchase stuff for the children. However, given that children consume far more than the amount of child benefit there is no benefit to society by adopting your proposal over throwing the money into the general family pool. Any working couple is currently spending 3-4 times the level of child benefit on childcare, and that's before the nappies, food, clothes etc that make up the day to day living costs.

Here are a few specific issues
What about food? If my 5 year old will only eat Heinz beans and sausages (thankfully she doesn't) would these foods count as child benefit friendly? How do you decide what foods are child benefit friendly, and prevent the child benefit being absorbed in the general shopping bill, rather than just being spent on the child.
What about someone who can afford to live without child benefit, but wants to save the money for the childs education in later life. Is that not purely directed towards the childs welfare?
What about medicines? Many otc medicines and medical products are dual purpose, i.e. they suit children and adults - think bandages, skin creams etc. How do we define which are child benefit friendly? All bandages, or only Barney ones?
What about household products? Is a clean house in the interests of the childs welfare?
What about mobile phones? Pandering to the child or a method of ensuring that the child can contact you at any time, thereby increasing their safety. What about the phone credit?
Computers? For games or education?
Arising from these problems in defining what is included, how many court cases will there be by producers who want to get their products on the approved list but were denied because a certain portion of the population believe that children shouldn't have them?


On another level, the more I think about it, the more philosophically opposed to it I become. There has been enough atomisation of society without attacking the family too, by defining which individual in the family is entitled to which money, rather than allowing it to function as an organic unit. Families should be free, within reason, to arrange their affairs as they see fit.
 

j26

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Presumably you mean someone could buy €150 worth of nappies, then head to town with their own money to buy whatever? Yes, that is true, but by using modern technology, that could be avoided. You say you have two children, so what if I were to say that if you attempted to buy €300 worth of nappies in any one month and then your child became ill. Then you have to fork out for the medicine yourself. Or particular types of goods, such as nappies, might not receive a full discount but a partial discount. Thereby, disincentivising you to splash out on nappies.
No, I mean that the general spend on children will add up to more than 40 quid a week each, when averaged out over the year (some months more, some months less). And then of course there's the childcare.

(And I have 3)
 

Baron von Biffo

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But what benefit would it achieve?

It's a no-brainer that people would use the child benefit card to purchase stuff for the children. However, given that children consume far more than the amount of child benefit there is no benefit to society by adopting your proposal over throwing the money into the general family pool. Any working couple is currently spending 3-4 times the level of child benefit on childcare, and that's before the nappies, food, clothes etc that make up the day to day living costs.

Here are a few specific issues
What about food? If my 5 year old will only eat Heinz beans and sausages (thankfully she doesn't) would these foods count as child benefit friendly? How do you decide what foods are child benefit friendly, and prevent the child benefit being absorbed in the general shopping bill, rather than just being spent on the child.
What about someone who can afford to live without child benefit, but wants to save the money for the childs education in later life. Is that not purely directed towards the childs welfare?
What about medicines? Many otc medicines and medical products are dual purpose, i.e. they suit children and adults - think bandages, skin creams etc. How do we define which are child benefit friendly? All bandages, or only Barney ones?
What about household products? Is a clean house in the interests of the childs welfare?
What about mobile phones? Pandering to the child or a method of ensuring that the child can contact you at any time, thereby increasing their safety. What about the phone credit?
Computers? For games or education?
Arising from these problems in defining what is included, how many court cases will there be by producers who want to get their products on the approved list but were denied because a certain portion of the population believe that children shouldn't have them?


On another level, the more I think about it, the more philosophically opposed to it I become. There has been enough atomisation of society without attacking the family too, by defining which individual in the family is entitled to which money, rather than allowing it to function as an organic unit. Families should be free, within reason, to arrange their affairs as they see fit.
You forgot John Bruton's little gem - women with small feet can buy children's shoes. Brought down a government that did so it should merit a special check on the card.
 

Skin

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It doesn't address the issue, which is whether wealthy parents should receive funding for the upbringing of their child. As has been pointed out, all parents will continue to receive the same funds, but the products they can spend it on are limited, but given the ease with which the child benefit amount can be spent on the products which would be included, wealthy parents would easily and legitimately use their child benefit.

The only scenario it might address is parents who do need the funding but who might nonetheless use it for alcohol or cigarettes to the detriment of the child. I think, though, that those situations are probably reasonably rare and in cases where parents aren't even spending €40 per week on their kids (between food, clothes, education costs, household bills etc) then it should probably be case for social services anyway.

Ultimately the costs to the exchequer are the same, but the cost of setting up and administering the system would, I think, be huge.
You miss the point. You cannot use it for cigaretter or alchohol. The child benefit will be lodged on a chip card. You cannot withdraw the money from a cash machine, you cannot get 'cash-back'. You can only produce it at the point of purchase for scanning. If the good you are buying (for instance an iPod) is not registered then you cannot get any discount or payment of the card. If the good you are buying is registered (for instance a prescription for a child) then you receive a full or partial discount.

If I am a millionaire with a child, I can only use the card for the same specific items as anyone else. If my child is not sick, the benefit as it currently stands is not available. If I decide to buy my son a pair of shoes worth more than €50.00 then I have to pay the difference.

The real point is the use of technology. How is it that one company can produce a global mapping system, available freely on the internet to the internet using world. But a simple register of child benefical goods and services cannot be made? I dont believe it. It is possible, very possible.
 

j26

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You forgot John Bruton's little gem - women with small feet can buy children's shoes. Brought down a government that did so it should merit a special check on the card.
I had thought about that - there's a lady in work who shops in the kids section. :D
 

j26

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... You can only produce it at the point of purchase for scanning. ...
What about the expense of installing POS equipment in every shop, chemist, doctors surgery, dance class, sports club etc (I assume promotion of physical fitness would be allowable) in the country. It'd put the cost of e-voting to shame.


Edit: Oh, and compiling the database would create a bureaucracy that would make a civil servants eyes water!!
 
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Skin

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But what benefit would it achieve?

It's a no-brainer that people would use the child benefit card to purchase stuff for the children. However, given that children consume far more than the amount of child benefit there is no benefit to society by adopting your proposal over throwing the money into the general family pool. Any working couple is currently spending 3-4 times the level of child benefit on childcare, and that's before the nappies, food, clothes etc that make up the day to day living costs.

Here are a few specific issues
What about food? If my 5 year old will only eat Heinz beans and sausages (thankfully she doesn't) would these foods count as child benefit friendly? How do you decide what foods are child benefit friendly, and prevent the child benefit being absorbed in the general shopping bill, rather than just being spent on the child.
What about someone who can afford to live without child benefit, but wants to save the money for the childs education in later life. Is that not purely directed towards the childs welfare?
What about medicines? Many otc medicines and medical products are dual purpose, i.e. they suit children and adults - think bandages, skin creams etc. How do we define which are child benefit friendly? All bandages, or only Barney ones?
What about household products? Is a clean house in the interests of the childs welfare?
What about mobile phones? Pandering to the child or a method of ensuring that the child can contact you at any time, thereby increasing their safety. What about the phone credit?
Computers? For games or education?
Arising from these problems in defining what is included, how many court cases will there be by producers who want to get their products on the approved list but were denied because a certain portion of the population believe that children shouldn't have them?


On another level, the more I think about it, the more philosophically opposed to it I become. There has been enough atomisation of society without attacking the family too, by defining which individual in the family is entitled to which money, rather than allowing it to function as an organic unit. Families should be free, within reason, to arrange their affairs as they see fit.
Your asking do I know what foods would be child benefit friendly, the answer is I dont know. All of that would have to be ironed out. For the sake of arguement, I would argue that many companies such as Heinz already promote foods that specifically target children. Notwithstanding that, any food deemed to be of nutritional value to a child could receive a discount. So you might think, I feel like a spicy beef curry with rice tonight. You buy the beef, have a child, yes, you get a discount. You buy the curry sauce, no discount, you buy some veg, you get a discount, then you go home and eat the lot yourself and give the kid a bowl of ice cream and a chocolate bar. Not much anyone can do about that, but in the broader scheme of things, for most parents, the child might get some beef stir fry without the spicy sauce.

Someone who can afford to live without the benefit and save it for education later in life is a contradiction in terms. If they need the money in later life, then they cant afford to live without it.

Dual use medicines would receive a discount, but only if you have an entitlement for child benefit. All bandages would be classed as such.

Household products, again I would have no issue with classing them as an essential need for providing a healthy and clean house - once again, discount available.

Mobile phones, up for debate, your point has merit. But are they a necessity? Most children seem to get by without one these days.
Ditto for computers. Are they essential for education?

As for the court cases, the scheme would be protected by legislation. To put it to the test, lets see if the free cheese scheme survives after court cases from the fish mongers and the bakers of Ireland.

All in all, considering the points made about spending 3-4 times the level of child benefit I would concur that that is the case.
However!! Under this system there is at least an assurance that the child benefit is being used for its specific purpose. If you have a child, you cannot spend the money abroad for instance (stories of foreign workers claiming benefit and then sending it home), how much would that save?
Under this system, if a wealthy parent wants to spend €80.00 on shoes they would have to pay the full price, but a pair of shoes worth €50.00 might receive a discount of 20% or whatever. If you try to buy two pairs in the same week or month, you get no discount. A

All of these issues could be ironed out, the essential idea behind the scheme would be that the child benefit would be spent solely on goods and services that are of a beneficial nature to a child - not cigs and alchohol, not gambling, not lads/girls weekends away, not on season tickets to your favourite football team, etc...etc....And where somebody has the money to buy excessive and lavish goods they will not be able to use the child benefit to contribute to that.

Its not perfect, but surely there are possible benefits to this.
 

Skin

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What about the expense of installing POS equipment in every shop, chemist, doctors surgery, dance class, sports club etc (I assume promotion of physical fitness would be allowable) in the country. It'd put the cost of e-voting to shame.


Edit: Oh, and compiling the database would create a bureaucracy that would make a civil servants eyes water!!
I would disagree. You already have point of sale equipment in every shop. All that is required is that the reader recognises, through the barcode, what type of item it is. Then when you swipe you SW card, the discount would come off the price. Simple.

As for the bureaucratic nightmare, as stated already the CSO compile a list of a thousand goods or so for the purpose of reading inflation. Simply transfer the list to SW and itemiese the good that would qualify. In a short space of time most goods and services would be registered. Simple.
 

Right is right

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Everyone should have to fill in a tax return every year like they do here in Australia and it should be included as a source of income and taxed. You could then apply a tax rate of 100% on people earning over 250k then or something to stop the really rich getting it.
 

murf13

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I've a great idea.
Get rid of the child welfare system completely.
Let those that choose to bring children into this world raise them.

I've three children and have never received a penny from a government to aid in raising them. You all should get used to the same.

With the coming financial tsunami approaching fast, you all need to realize that the welfare state will soon be a thing of the past.
 

Bridget558

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The thing i dont understand is how on earth could it be to hard to means test child benifit? I mean they means test the medical card and the back to school clothing and footwear allowance so what would be so hard doing the same with child benifit ?
 

Bow tie

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Under this system, if a wealthy parent wants to spend €80.00 on shoes they would have to pay the full price, but a pair of shoes worth €50.00 might receive a discount of 20% or whatever.
Have you any idea of the price of shoes? :eek:
A normal pair of clarkes shoes for a toddler is a tad under 50 quid unless you can find a sale somewhere. Why would there only be a 20% discount?

If you try to buy two pairs in the same week or month, you get no discount.
So, eh what about twins? I have to wait til the next month to get the 2nd pair of shoes?

It's all moot anyway as all mine goes to childcare. So I assume all creches and preschool/ montessori's are included?
 

Skin

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Have you any idea of the price of shoes? :eek:
A normal pair of clarkes shoes for a toddler is a tad under 50 quid unless you can find a sale somewhere. Why would there only be a 20% discount?



So, eh what about twins? I have to wait til the next month to get the 2nd pair of shoes?

It's all moot anyway as all mine goes to childcare. So I assume all creches and preschool/ montessori's are included?
Christ, did you read the OP? These are only ball park figures, you dont assume that the fine detail of such a project could be laid out in full on P.ie, do you?

But for the sake of arguement, if you have twins, or two children then you would be in receipt of €300 not €150.
 


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