Under the coalition agreement waiting to be signed, the new Reform-Isamaa-SDE government coalition intends to sharply increase the size of monthly family benefits in Estonia. Bowing to pressure from Isamaa, family benefits are to be paid out to all families with three or more children through age 24, but Reform still wants to narrow the scope of the benefit.
According to the coalition agreement, monthly benefits paid to large families are set to double next year — from €300 to €600 for families with three to six children, and from €400 to €800 for families with seven or more children.
Starting in 2024, family benefits will also be indexed, i.e. will increase annually, similarly to pensions.
"This is clearly a population growth- and demographics-related matter," Isamaa board member Priit Sibul explained. "What we want is for an ideal to develop in Estonia in which a family has not two but at least three children, and that should help implement a demographic change."
Under the current system, the payment of family benefits ends once the oldest child in the family turns 18. Under the new system, family benefits will begin to decrease in stages instead, and the age limit will be increased to 24 as well.
"The limit is related to that of the survivor's benefit — the limit is 24 precisely because if a child is still studying, they haven't yet left the nest," Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) explained. "Benefits will decrease by one third once one of the three children turns 24."
Sibul added that family benefits will be paid out without being subject to any further conditions. In other words, it will not be tied to a family's financial situation or a child's school attendance.
"The benefit is paid to families — it isn't tied to a child or their activities," he said. "This is a family benefit that is paid to parents for having decided to raise at least three children in Estonian society."
Kallas nonetheless still hopes that some specifications will be introduced as the relevant bill is deliberated, thus ensuring that help reaches those who need it the most.
"We have discussed that it should be children who are studying, as then you have expenses involved, but this bill needs to be drawn up by the government to ensure that all of these conditions are in place," she said.
Monthly child benefits for a family's first and second children are set to increase from €60 to €80 next year. This benefit will continue to be paid out through a child's 16th birthday, or 19th if they continue their studies.
Editor: Aili Vahtla