Child allowance reform to ‘lift 16% out of poverty’

Summary

The government of Flanders has reached an agreement on changes to child allowance, including higher allowances for secondary school students

‘Growth package’

The Flemish government has approved changes to child allowance proposed by welfare minister Jo Vandeurzen. The reforms, which include a monthly allowance of €160 for every child, with €150 a year for children enrolled in pre-school, will come into force in 2019.

For every child born after 1 January 2019, parents will receive a one-off payment of €1,100, followed by an allowance of €160 a month. Parents who sign their toddlers up for pre-school will receive an immediate €150, with €150 more in the second year, provided the child attended a minimum of 150 half-days.

“This is an incentive for parents to send their children to pre-school,” Vandeurzen said. “The reform concerns children aged between three and four.”

Child allowance has now been renamed “growth package”, as it takes into account a number of other allowances, including those for orphans and foster children, a care allowance for children with specific health-care needs and a school allowance at the start of every school year.

Vandeurzen said his plan aimed to cover some of the cost of bringing up children and contribute to the fight against poverty. According to figures provided by his office, the new system will lift 16% of families out of poverty. No family will lose out by the new reforms, the minister said.

The reforms also affect the school allowance for older children from low-income families.  Secondary school pupils will now receive up to €200 a year more. The school allowance for three- to five-year-olds will also go up €98 each year, up to an average €682 a year for pupils aged 12 to 18. This allowance is means-tested.

Also included in the €30 million extra budget is €8 million for the allowance for students in professional education. The allowances will also be extended to include children attending schools approved by the Flemish Community and pre-schools in the Brussels region.

Photo: Ingimage