It is “concerning” how many families will need to spend this week’s double child benefit payment on essential items, Barnardos has said.
In Budget 2023, the Government announced a series of one-off measures to help people struggling with the cost of living.
Those on the fuel allowance have received €300, those on the disability allowance €400 and parents have been given double payment of child benefit as well.
Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast, Barnardos National Policy Manager Stephen Moffatt said the payment would make a “big difference” to many of the families they support.
“It’s nearly two years since the cost of living crisis came about,” he said.
“Families have been really struggling for a really long time. The reserves have run out - particularly [for] families on low fixed incomes.
“This will alleviate some of the financial pressures for a short period and allow parents to provide essential items for their children - which is slightly concerning that they need this sum to do that.”
Mr Moffat said he knew one parent who planned to use the money to buy their children new shoes, proper winter coats and pay off their bills.
Despite this, many families have told Barnardos they are already worried about what they will do in the New Year.
“The concern, I suppose for parents, is that they don’t just think about Christmas, they think beyond Christmas,” Mr Moffat said.
“Are they going to be thinking beyond heating bills come January when they know it’s still going to be cold?
“Unfortunately, in line with what happened in the Budget and these lump sums, it’s probably not enough to alleviate [the] concerns of low-income families… have when providing their children with essentials.”
Mr Moffat said ideally the Budget would have done more for those with the greatest need in society.
“It’s always difficult for the Government to balance targeted supports with universal supports,” he said.
“Most families have been struggling through the cost of living crisis, the Government has to support them to some degree.
“Looked at as a whole across the Budget, I think there probably wasn’t enough targeted supports - particularly for families who are really struggling financially and can’t provide their children with essentials.”
In January, the weekly rate of Qualified Child payment will rise by €4 per child.
Main image: Mother and child shopping.