MaltaToday, 16 January 2008 | MP hits out again over children’s allowance discrimination
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NEWS | Wednesday, 16 January 2008

MP hits out again over children’s allowance discrimination

Labour MP Karl Chircop has reiterated that the government is discriminating against low-income families just prior to the election, for paying higher income families their children’s allowance in one lump sum.
“The Nationalist government has decided that those qualifying for children’s allowance for the first time, those earning more than Lm10,270, will be paid their benefit in one lump sum so that these can take their allowance before the general election. Those who have low incomes will take their benefit in four payments.”
Chircop said decried the system as “partisan” for classifying social benefits according to families’ income.
“It is clear that the Nationalist Party has forgotten it was a Labour government which gave children’s allowance to each boy and girl and that it was a Nationalist government which means-tested this allowance, denying thousands of families and generations of children this allowance.
“The fact that the government has once again given children’s allowance is an admission of its mistake in removing it in the first place. Labour is against discrimination between families of different incomes. We believe that every family must be treated the same.”
On her part, the Minister for Family and Social Solidarity Dolores Cristina said it was a pity that the MLP was coming out against a positive measure.
“Anyone who qualifies for the flat-rate €250 (Lm170) will receive the full amount in January. I want to precise that it is not just those who earn from than €23,923 (Lm10,270) who will be getting their cheque in January, because there are families who qualify for the flat-rate benefit, such as a family with one child and an income of €20,964.36.
Cristina said the Nationalist government had substantially reduce income tax when the system of child benefits was changed in 1996. “That reform enabled families with a low income to receive double the amount of children’s allowance for the first child. It meant that families with less than Lm7,000 in 1995 saw an increase in the allowance of their children a year later. This year’s reform has enabled siblings to benefit form the same amount of children’s allowance.”
The minister also said that this system had stayed in force even during Labour’s two-year administration. “Does the Leader of the Opposition’s promise to revert the system of children’s allowance to the 1995 system – which would lead to a decrease in allowance from that provided by Budget 2008 – still stand?”

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