SIPTU has stated its full support for maintaining universal child benefit payments but has called for improvements in the scheme in order to tackle the issue of child poverty. SIPTU Economist, Marie Sherlock, said: “The union fully supports the universal nature of child benefit payments. Although the universal child benefit payment is not enough to cover the cost of raising a child, it is a recognition that the rearing of children is for the benefit of all of society. “However, more can and should be done to aggressively combat child poverty. There should be a significant increase in the qualified child payment.  Research by the OECD and others on the experiences across countries in terms of child income policies and poverty outcomes has shown that parental employment is a key determinant to improving childhood outcomes. “In order to support parents in joining the workforce, SIPTU strongly believes in a well-developed well-funded system of childcare supports for working families in Ireland. This is critical for working parents so that they are not disincentivised in their desire to work and it can ensure that they are not trapped into a part time low income work. “It is also critical for children. It can ensure that they receive high quality care in the most important years of their lives. It is vital for those working in the childcare sector so that they receive pay and conditions commensurate with their skills and the quality service they provide to young children. She added: “The focus of the European Council and European Commission in their recent recommendations to Ireland on the need to improve the availability of childcare supports must be welcomed. It is now up to the Government to set out a plan for how a quality childcare system can be established and funded. “Ireland’s current fiscal position means that we now have an opportunity to deliver on long overdue and much needed changes to childcare supports in Ireland.”