The idea of giving part of a Child Benefit payment back to the State is 'the worst thing' people could do.
That is according to Fergus Finlay, former CEO of Barnardos, who was reacting as some parents have said they are donating their double Child Benefit payment to charity.
A double payment of Child Benefit was paid on November 1st, which saw parents given €280 per child instead of €140.
Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys has said those who do not need the payment can gift it back to the State.
Mr Finlay told Lunchtime Live a targeted approach would be better.
"I've always argued that we should be targeting Child Benefit, and attempts have been made over the years to do that, but it doesn't appear to be possible," he said.
"It is a universal payment and it's given to everybody.
"Thousands and thousands of families have just come through the really high-pressured experience of sending their children back to school.
"It's a pity, in a way, that this didn't go out a month ago because if it had been targeted at the return to school [time] it would have helped an awful lot of families at the time when they needed it most."
'The worst thing you could do'
Mr Finlay said people should be careful if they return part of the payment.
"If you can't afford to give, don't; nobody should feel pressured into giving up that little windfall because it will help an awful lot in an awful lot of ways," he said.
"The worst thing you could do with it is give it back to the Government, absolutely the worst thing, because they have no plan for how to spend it.
"If they were spending it on the Qualified Child Allowance... if they could guarantee that, then yes by all means, but it'll just disappear.
"It'll just go towards next year's even bigger surplus than we had this year," he added.
Mr Finlay suggested: "What I would do is if I knew somebody who needed the break, I'd give it directly to them.
"If I didn't, I would give it to a charity that focuses on children."
'That money will just get lost'
Louise Bayliss is spokesperson for Single Parents Acting for the Rights of Kids (SPARK).
"I think it's a great idea," she said.
"I know that on Tuesday Heather Humphreys said that people could return it back to the Department of Social Protection.
"However, that money will just get lost and it's like an extra taxation on yourself.
"I think there are families who are in real need, in desperate need."
Ms Bayliss said they had hoped for more in Budget 2023.
"We had asked in the budget that there would be targeted measures to help those families through the cost-of-living crisis," she said.
"We think a better way of really targeting child poverty is to direct that money into the Qualified Child increase.
"We asked for that to be €12 per week for children over-12... and €7 a week for children under-12.
"We got €2 a week for all children, which is 30c a day," she added.