One of the biggest children's charities in the country has called for the introduction of a more modest universal child benefit payment.

Barnardos Chief Executive Fergus Finlay said he believed the system of Child Benefit payments needed to be reformed because the money "does not always go where it's needed most".

He said savings generated by the cut could be used to help low-income families.

Earlier, Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said the issue of Child Benefit has not yet been discussed at Cabinet, but that it is something the Government would need to consider.

He said it was one of many discussions and decisions that would have to be taken in the run-up to the Budget.

Mr Coveney said: "Last year a lot of people rightly raised the issue of is it fair that very high-income earners are getting the same supports through Child Benefit that people who are on low incomes are getting.

"At a time when you have to try and prioritise spending for families and parents and children who need financial support the most, then I think that it's something that we need to consider."

He said €2bn was spent on Child Benefit last year.

This morning, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the Government has not considered anything to do with Child Benefit.

Mr Kenny said Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton, as part of the budgetary programme, will bring her views to Cabinet in due course.

An advisory group set up by the minister has proposed a cut to the payments.

The group said that payments could be cut to around €100 per child each month, which could save up to €200m a year.

Sinn Féin's Aengus Ó Snodaigh has said no changes should be made to Child Benefit in December's Budget and said the payment should be left alone.

He said the Government should instead introduce a third rate of tax on income over €100,000, which he said would produce more savings than any cut in Child Benefit.