Child Benefit

Imagine living in a country where you’re paid to have sex.

Imagine no more, for you already live in that wonderland, because here in Ireland, the more children you decide to have, the more money we pay you.

Now, I’m not talking about somebody struggling to feed a child after a broken marriage or a chance pregnancy.   I’m not talking about someone with three kids who needs to raise a family following a bereavement.  I’m talking about anyone, in any financial circumstances, who decides to have as many kids as they want even when they can’t afford to look after them.

Let’s look at the rates of child benefit.

If you have one child, you get a monthly rate of €140.

If you have two children, you get the same rate, but if you have three, it increases to €142.66 per child.  If you have four kids, you get €147 per child, and if you have five you get €149.60.  If you have six kids, you get €151.33 each, and if you have seven, you get €152.57.

The heroic parent with eight sprogs gets €153.50 each.


Please explain this to me.  Why do we pay people to have children, and why do we increase the rate as they pop out more babies?

What happened to the idea of personal responsibility?  What happened to the notion of having as many children as you can afford to feed, clothe and educate?

Personally, I don’t care how many children anyone decides to produce.  That’s their own business.  My only objection is to subsidising the consequences of their sexual activity.  Why am I paying for someone else’s shagging, just as the Brits have to do for this crowd in England who have eleven children?  Or the fool with ten children who picketed Limerick City Council because they wouldn’t provide a house big enough for his growing family and his desire to have even more babies.


Fuck off.  Pay for your own kids or put your dick back in your pants.

It’s that simple.


23 thoughts on “Child Benefit

  1. Wrong on so many levels:

    1. No one is paid to have sex and you know it. Just going for the cheap headline
    2. The whole concept of social solidarity is that our taxes get used for purposes that don’t necessarily benefit us directly (supports for disabilities etc)
    3. A healthy birthrate is pretty much essential to economic growth and for that reason alone its worth subsidising to some extent
    4. The extreme examples you give are just that – outliers
    5. There is a good debate to be had about reforming benefits (means testing etc) but suggesting that there should be zero assistance to parents is just ridiculous. Most countries do it (albeit in different ways)..

  2. Before we go anywhere, don’t ever tell anyone what they know. That’s plain bad manners and I’d be obliged if you wouldn’t do it to me.

    Secondly, I need no lectures on social solidarity . This is a post about personal responsibility.

    Thirdly, I never said we don’t need a sustainable birthrate (or a healthy birthrate as you put it).

    Fourthly, please point out where I said there should be zero assistance to parents.

    By all means disagree with me, but don’t make up nonsense I never said.

  3. Bock, I’d agree there is a serious debate to be had about benefits in this country (including child benefit) but saying we are paying people to have sex (or paying for someone else’s shagging as you put it) is not the way to start or contribute to it.

    When you object to “subsidising the consequences of sexual activity” I would take that as not providing any assistance to parents. You can’t really say that my interpretation here is harsh can you? If you did I’d quote for final remark “Fuck off. Pay for your own kids or put your dick back in your pants.” Not much wriggle room there but feel free to try :)

    You seem to be taking the extreme examples of where some people decide to have loads of kids and use that as a reason to suggest that there should be no state subsidy for parents at all. Some people defraud the dole by working and fake illness/injury to get access to other benefits – should we do away with the dole and disability benefit also?

    I agree with you that people should exercise personal responsibility and there is nothing wrong with the state imposing limits as to the supports it can/should provide. I’m also in favour of means testing certain benefits (including child benefit) but you seem to be against the very nature of a subsidy in relation to the number of children in a family which is the point where I disagree with you.

    I think you are generally on the money with stuff like this which is why I was so surprised to see you take such a harsh and frankly indefensible line on this one. But hey, it’s your blog so knock yourself out..

  4. Forgot to add – re sustainable/healthy birth rates I never said you were against it. I merely offered that as a reason why it makes economic sense to support it…

  5. You seem to have overlooked the earlier paragraphs of this post. As a parent, I’m not against support. I’m just against excessive subsidies. Out of curiosity, have you raised a family yourself?

  6. The children’s allowance should be means tested as a lot of well-heeled parents get it. It seems to be a subsidy to the retail trade, including off licence shops. The Irish Government could imitate what they did in India in years gone by: offer free electronic gadgetry such as radios, CD players, MP3s, laptops and iPODs, to any responsible man who comes forward to have his tubes snipped in a quick painless operation. Preferably electronic goods manufactured in Ireland. I’m all for supporting home industry.

  7. Why not means test it and use the savings to invest in cheaper child care for lower income families like they do in Sweden. Why should JP McManus be just as entitled to this subsidy as a loan parent on the dole. It’s a no brainer.

  8. For sure. But how about confining it to a maximum of two or three children? After that, it’s your own responsibility.

  9. Bock, I thought your question about “have you raised a family yourself” was a bit hurtful, in that people, even if they were unlucky enough not to rear a family, can still hold an opinion. We don’t have to be Cancer sufferers etc, to empathise with Cancer patients. The same would apply to parenting in general. By all means there’s room for debate, but remarks of that nature, are a bit hurtful, or could be to some unfortunate people who through no fault of their own, cannot produce children.

  10. @ Bock, while I don’t think it’s a pre-requisite for having an opinion on the subject the answer is yes – I do have kids (3 if that’s not going overboard). I’ve always thought Child Benefit needed restructuring in Ireland (so does my better half by the way) as in Ireland it is clearly a subsidy given to mothers. Any debate on the subject will tell you that for many families it is the only source of income the mother has and for that reason the govt has (rightly in my view) been very slow to move on it without making sure it is addressing it from all sides.

    Going back to the core of the debate. I believe it is appropriate that the state recognizes that having children is a good thing in general and that it involves serious expense which can be offset by certain supports (tax relief, childcare supplements, allowances etc). For some reason we have developed a direct payment, universal benefit system in Ireland. I think that the fact that there is no cap is something that’s worth a look but I guarantee you that it’s a hangover from excessive Catholic influence in state affairs. As for the rates increasing on a per child basis or the additional payment given to people with twins etc it is certainly worth a look but even using your own example: Someone with 8 kids gets approx EUR10 per child more than a person with 1 kid which is about a 7% increase per child. Hardly an incentive to keep producing is it?

    Personally I’d like to see the state recognize it using tax credits for those in employment and some system of payment for those who are not. As for the limits on the number of children you should note that 75% of families with children have one or two kids, 17% have 3 kids and 8% have 4 or more. [Source Census 2011]. If 92% of families with kids have 3 or less, it does not make a whole lot of sense to get too hot and bothered about the 8% in my view.

  11. Mark — I have no views on the number of children people should have. That’s a personal decision outside my competence. My views are entirely concerned with the amount of procreation the State should subsidise. Presumably, people would continue to have children with or without financial incentives.

    Are you sure that having children is a good thing in general? Does that mean a good thing for society or for the individual parents? Once we reach a rate where the population remains at a stable level, why is it a good thing to have more?

    And if you’re into social engineering, as your post hints at, should the government have a view on which socio-economic classes ought to be encouraged to reproduce? As I understand it, the middle classes are letting the side down badly at the moment by limiting their families to numbers they can afford to feed and educate.

  12. I’d be very careful about getting into the social engineering discussion. Hard to do without looking like a complete right wing ideologue. Overall I believe that the govt should let people retain as much of their earnings as possible while taxing enough to provide social supports and services where required. I totally agree that personal responsibility has to be part of the equation but where to draw that line?

    Personally I’d love to see a serious group formed with the notion of totally overhauling the current system of tax and spend. I’d like to see serious research done on benchmarking us against against other countries to really nail where we are and where we are headed. I’d like to see real debate on the whole shooting match but I don’t think we should start by scapegoating anyone. Times are tough and every day it seems like we are finding someone else to blame (Foreign nationals, Social Welfare recipients, Builders etc).

    I go back to my initial point. There is a serious debate to be had on all of these issues and for sure let’s discuss the notion of whether the state should be subsidizing the cost of having children. Let’s not do that in a vacuum though and let’s not do it by leading with the ‘paying people to have sex’ argument. I think it’s beneath all of us. Sorry for maybe coming down hard on this one but I genuinely view your blog as a voice of reason on a whole host of subjects, just think that you were way off base on this one but hey that’s just my opinion.

  13. You say that having children is a good thing in general, but that has two interpretations.

    One is that it’s good for the parents. No contentious issues there. Maybe it is and maybe it isn’t.

    The other is that it’s good for society. If so, you’re into the area of social engineering.

  14. Ireland is living with the legacy of having banned contraception between the ’30s and the ’80s, and even after that it was highly controlled. Abortion is still illegal.
    I’d actually disagree with you Bock when you say we’re subsidising shagging. If we were subsidising shagging, we would be giving out condoms and prescriptions for the pill, as well as making abortion legal and available to those you wish.
    We are subsidising conception. I agree with Mark when he says, “…it’s a hangover from excessive Catholic influence in state affairs.” The production of future generations of christian soldiers.
    We are slowly moving away from that, but now there is a new reason to subsidise conception; somebody will have to pay back all that debt (that last point is more of a joke… I hope…)

  15. Reverting to an earlier point, are the people producing large families in a position to pay back anything?

  16. “Bock, I thought your question about “have you raised a family yourself” was a bit hurtful, in that people, even if they were unlucky enough not to rear a family, can still hold an opinion” Haven’t read such horseshit as that in a while..
    Hurtful? Go way out of it.
    Unlucky enough to rear a family? Babies must really be delivered by storks then. It’s a bloody choice.. no luck involved. (for most)

    “I believe it is appropriate that the state recognizes that having children is a good thing” More horseshit. A good thing? There’s too many brats around as it is, being raised by idiots – regardless of ‘class’.
    I don’t agree with that premise at all. Who is it good for exactly? Good how?
    Why would it be detrimental for less people to be procreating?

    “A healthy birthrate is pretty much essential to economic growth ”
    That’s a joke. We have thousands emigrating as it is. Economic growth of Australia and the U.S I suppose.

  17. This ‘allowance’ was designed to serve as an indirect source of cash for banks and for the vintners.
    Attaching it to the innocent was a master stroke in hood-winkery.

    Clever or what?

  18. I am undecided about this one, but I would make one point. When I was a younger man, I paid income tax in excess of 50% and always understood that it went to help pensioners and babies and society and all that stuff. Haughey’s lifestyle remained a secret back then.

    But, that is how society works. The fit and educated pay with their activity levels so that the less fortunate can live also. If it were every man for himself, you might end up living in “Fortress Bock”. But, it does seem strange that you need a license for a dog and not for a child. Perhaps a bit of pre-shagging education might not go amiss ?

  19. That reply Bock says it all. Horseshit? not being able to be reproduce? Very sensitive indeed.

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