Once enough to contribute a significant amount of money to large families, government child allowance payments on Tuesday will fall to their lowest levels ever. Where just a few years ago families received as much as NIS 400 per child, the payments for children will fall to NIS 140 (less than $40) per child per month, aggravating the situation of poor, mostly hareidi and Arab families, who in the past depended on the payments to avoid falling into poverty.
While many Israelis were understandably upset at the latest cut, at least one – Finance Minister Yair Lapid – celebrated the new cuts.
In a posting on his Facebook page, Lapid wrote that cutting the payments “was one of the central campaign promises we made, and now that the cuts are actually being conducted. We of course will help families that need help, and we have set aside millions to ensure that children are fed properly. We have also canceled child payments for the wealthiest families."
Lapid contended that child allowances simply perpetuate the cycle of poverty, as opposed to solving it.
“It has been proven many times that child payments are not a way to pull families out of poverty,” Lapid wrote. “They just preserve and enhance poverty. Only one thing helps pull families out of the cycle of poverty, and that is work. This is what responsibility, both parental and social, is all about,” he added.
Child allowances are a perennial favorite target of politicians for many reasons, among them because those who benefit from them the most – the families with the largest number of children – are usually hareidi and Arab families.
Unlike other countries, there are no income tax deductions for children. The government chose to provide assistance to families with children instead by instituting child allowance payments, which at this point have all but disappeared.