Government support for families is highly effective in tacking child poverty

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Tuesday, 28 October 2014: Commenting on the UNICEF report, Minister of State Kevin Humphreys said: “Government support for children and families amounted to €2.3 billion in 2014. This investment has the effect of reducing the at-risk of poverty rate for children in Ireland from 45% to 19%, a reduction of 59%. This is amongst the best performances in the EU in reducing child poverty. In Budget 2015, on top of existing expenditure, an additional €96 million was committed to investing in children.”

Government support for children is in line with the key conclusion of the UNICEF report, that “increasing investment in social protection policy and programmes can reduce poverty, enhance social resilience in children and support economic development in an efficient, cost-effective way”.

The Minister spoke of the challenges that the Government faced because of the recession and the measures it has put in place to support families in tackling unemployment and in helping families and children out of poverty.  “By the end of 2012 there were 330,000 less people at work compared to 2007. That is why we are seeing statistics like this. We must remember that in 2012 the number of people in work was the same as in 2003. That is how hard and fast our economy fell.

“Our best way to tackle child poverty is to get people back to work, through Pathways to Work and the Action Plan for Jobs, and we are seeing recovery in the economy – that is translating into real jobs. In the Budget we were able cement that recovery and to increase child benefit by an extra €5 for every child from January next.”  

The Budget also provided for a Back to Work Family Dividend to remove barriers for lone parents and long-term unemployed families with children to get back into work. The tax changes made will benefit low and middle income families, and the Family Income Supplement payment has been there to support families with children throughout the recession.  

“There are nearly 180,000 people out of work for over a year – that number has been falling, but many of those have children, and worked up until the recession – they want to work, and my job is to provide them with the help and supports to get back into work. We continue to see steady increases in the number of people going back to work – that will feed through into statistics like this as more people have more money in their pocket to support their families,” the Minister added.

The Government has already adopted a key recommendation of the UNICEF report - to make an explicit commitment to end child poverty - by setting a child poverty sub-target in April 2014, which is to lift 70,000 children out of poverty by 2020, equivalent to a reduction of two-thirds on the 2010 rate.  

The Government will next week host a roundtable of key European and national stakeholders, including UNICEF, to develop an integrated strategy for breaking the cycle of child poverty. Central to the Government approach is the development of prevention and early intervention services targeted at disadvantaged children, drawing on the lessons of the Area Based Childhood programme and the DEIS programme.  

Last modified:28/10/2014