Published date: 14 Sep 2023
A ‘Child Poverty’ Budget is not possible without targeted payments to support children feeling tightest grip of poverty
On Day 4 of Children’s Rights Alliance End Child Poverty Week, speakers at today’s event (14.09.23) will emphasise the need for Budget 2024 to target income supports for children living in International Protection and those families in receipt of social welfare in order to turn the tide on child poverty. The Alliance has stated categorically that Budget 2024 will only truly be a ‘Children’s Budget’ if it targets payments to reach children and young people feeling the grip of poverty the most, particularly those children living in international protection.
The event will be chaired by Dr Tricia Keilthy, Head of Social Justice and Policy at St Vincent de Paul, with a keynote address by leading academic Prof Hugh Frazer. Highlighting the impact of child poverty on children and young people will be Derval McDonagh, CEO of Inclusion Ireland, Paul Gordon, Director of Policy and Advocacy at the National Youth Council. Louise Bayliss will highlight the experience of one parent families and Seamus Boland, CEO of Irish Rural Link will speak to the prevalence of rural poverty. Sara Cid, research at the Irish Refugee Council will present new research on income inadequacy for children living in Direct Provision.
Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance, is calling on Government to level the playing field this coming Budget:
“The research shows us that children living in direct provision endure conditions far below a minimum essential standard of living. Some children and families are living in crowded and often, inappropriate accommodation – some have had their entire worlds reduced to just one room. Children and young people have told us how difficult it is to have a normal life with no access to simple things like cooking facilities to prepare a meal together, or using a bar of soap to wash their hair because they do not have the means to get anything else. Five budgets have been and gone with these children and young people being forgotten. Last year they were the only children and young people left behind while all others received an increase in payments. It means these children endure a childhood severely compromised by poverty, creating a major barrier to community integration, as they are unable to afford to take part in activities with their friends and peers from school, including sports.”
“The situation facing children living in Direct Provision can no longer be tolerated. The Government can easily rectify the inequality faced by these children and their families by increasing their allowances to meet what their peers already get. We are in seriously murky waters, where we’re allowing children to be born into a system that forces them to spend their entire childhoods living in conditions that are simply not to the standards we’d expect. To discriminate against these children in this way, simply because of their status, is unacceptable.
The Children’s Rights Alliance is calling for Budget 2024 to be a Children’s Budget designed to break the cycle of poverty for children and young people by delivering:
- Increases to the International Protection Child Payment so that it is the same rate as the Universal Child Benefit payment.
This would take account of the higher costs for older children (€20 for children under 12 years and €32 for children over 12 years).
- Increases to the ‘Qualified Child Increase’
Last year’s budget’s minimal increases to the QCI were simply not effective enough to help children and families living with the weight of poverty. Budget 2024 needs to deliver an increase of €10 per week for children under 12 and €15 per week for children over 12.
“The ‘Qualified Child Increase’ is a welfare payment for children that is available to parents already in receipt of social welfare. We are talking about families who see the income gap getting wider and deeper through cost-of-living spikes. To simply stand still, we needed to see significant increases to that income support and, last year, Government failed to do that. The payment increased by just €2 – not even the equivalent of the price of 2 litres of milk a week. It is critical that Budget 2024 addresses the inadequacy of these supports to help children and families back from the brink of poverty.”
“Government has a huge opportunity in Budget 2024 to level the playing field for the children who have been consistently left behind, year after year. We are heartened to see and hear the focus on child poverty in pre-budget discussions, but a ‘Child Poverty Budget’ will not be possible without the inclusion and the investment in the targeted income supports that reach the children living with poverty every day,” concluded Tanya Ward.
Notes to Editors:
- This is the fourth event of the Children’s Rights Alliance’s End Child Poverty Week. A hybrid event, it takes place on Thursday 14 September in The Ark, 11A Eustace Street, Dublin between 10.30am and 1pm. Tune in online here.
- Chaired by Tricia Keilthy, Head of Social Justice and Policy, Society of St Vincent de Paul Ireland, the keynote address is given by Hugh Frazer, Adjunct Professor, Department of Applied Social Studies, Maynooth University and Chairperson of the Dublin City Community Cooperative. The panellists are:
- CEO of Irish Rural Link, Seamus Boland is well placed to share insights about the distinct challenges faced by families living in rural areas.
- Derval McDonagh, CEO of Inclusion Ireland, will highlight how Budget 2024 can support the additional costs incurred by families with a child or young person with a disability.
- Paul Gordon, Director of Policy and Advocacy at the National Youth Council, will provide an input from the perspective of young people.
- The official statistics from the CSO show that children in one parent families have the highest levels of poverty, with this in mind Louise Bayliss will discuss what needs to change to break the cycle of poverty for these children.
- Ensuring that all families have access to child benefit and adequate income supports is critical, Sara Cid, a researcher from the Irish Refugee Council provides fresh insights from research being undertaken on income adequacy with children living in Direct Provision.
- Children’s Rights Alliance spokespeople are available for media interviews; other speakers available upon request.
- End Child Poverty Week is supported by the Community Foundation for Ireland and The Fidelis Foundation. The week-long series of events focuses on five thematic areas of child poverty, the root causes and the best practice solutions needed to break the cycle of poverty for children and young people. Details of the other events are available here.
- The Children’s Rights Alliance Pre Budget Submission, published in June 2023, is available here.
- An increase of €10 per week for children under 12 and €15 per week for children over 12 is needed to retain the purchasing power of the Increase for a Qualified Child and make real progress on tackling child poverty.
- The Children’s Rights Alliance Child Poverty Monitor 2023 is available here (p.20 onwards)
- A White Paper to End Direct Provision and to Establish a New International Protection Support Service is available here (February 2021)
- Vincentian MESL Research Centre, Estimating the MESL costs for families in Direct Provision, Working Paper Prepared by: Hannah Boylan, available here
- Irish Refugee Council’s press release on Budget 2024 is available here..