Equal child allowance rates for each child?

One of the election campaign issues is child allowance. This area will become a Flemish, Brussels and Walloon responsibility as more powers are being transferred from the federal to the regional levels. The result will be that the present child allowance system will be the subject of a complete make-over.

Under the present (federal) system, allowances for the first child are smaller than for the second. The amount next grows for a third and a fourth child, after which the benefit has reached its maximum level.  

Most Flemish parties are proposing to get rid of this difference and press for an equal amount for each child. The Flemish liberals however have another proposal: they keep the ranking, but reverse it: parents should get the highest amount for a first child, and then less for a second etc. "The first child is the most expensive", the Open VLD argues.

This being said, nothing will change for the present families. The new system will only apply to new-born babies. Generally speaking, the change is good news for smaller families and is less positive for big families. However, 81 percent of the Flemish families are 1- or 2-child families.

So how much would a child receive? A calculation made by the Leuven University KU Leuven had the following result. However, as you take a look at the following figures, bear in mind that other factors are also playing a role, and continue reading the paragraph below.

  • N-VA: 170 euros per month per child
  • CD&V: 167
  • SP.A: 130
  • Vlaams Belang: 250
  • Groen: 205
  • Open VLD: 150 (first child), 105 (second child) etc.

Income-related to which extent, and affordable or not?

However, it's important to put things into perspective. First of all, how realistic are the plans? We are still in hard economic times and new cuts will have to be made. Each proposal costs money.

Will these proposals also be carried out, or will they be adapted as parties are working out the new policies and discussing austerity measures? In this respect, it should be said that far-right Vlaams Belang's plan would cost the tax payer 62 percent extra than is now the case. It would mean an extra expenditure of almost 2 billion euros, estimations show.

At the same time, the system of child allowance is related to the parents' income. This is already the case at present, and most parties want to keep the present system. However, the socialists of SP.A and the greens of Groen want a bigger distinction to be made between the families' incomes. The lower the family income, the higher the benefit and vice versa. In this way, Groen and SP.A want to step up the fight against child poverty.