13 Oct 2015
Tuesday 13 October 2015: For immediate release
Budget 2016 is the Government’s First Family-Friendly Budget
The Children’s Rights Alliance, reacting to today’s Budget, has welcomed a number of important decisions to benefit and improve the lives of thousands of children and families. In particular we welcome:
• The extension of free GP care for all children under 12 years
• The introduction of two weeks’ paid paternity leave
• The extension of the free pre-school year to children upon reaching three years of age
• Extending subsidised childcare by 8,000 places so it is more widely available for families on low-incomes throughout the country
• €15 million in 2016 to support children with special needs to access early childhood care and education (and €33 million from 2017 onwards)
• An investment of €3 million in afterschool services and €3.5 million to improve the quality of childcare
• An additional €3 million for the School Meals Programme
• An increase in the Family Income Supplement by €5 for a family with one child and by €10 for a family with two or more children
• An increase by €5 to the Child Benefit payment bringing it to €140 per month
• An extra €38 million for Tusla, the Child and Family Agency bringing its budget to €662 million
• An additional €8 million for therapeutic services for children, including speech and language therapy
• A tax increase of 50 cent on a packet of cigarettes to help deter children from a life of addiction
Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance, says: “The good news is that this is the Government’s first family-friendly budget for children. Significant announcements in the area of early childhood care and education are to be warmly welcomed as this will help put children on a level-playing field, get them school-ready and reduce the financial burden on families.
We are relieved that the Government managed to find an extra €38 million for the Child and Family Agency (Tusla) to shore up its services for vulnerable children. This will begin to address the current crisis where 7,500 children who are suspected victims of child abuse and neglect are waiting to be allocated a social worker to provide them with supports.
We are also pleased to see an increase to free GP care for under 12s, another significantly positive announcement today.
Let’s not celebrate yet, however. We are disappointed that certain groups of vulnerable children are still left wanting or have simply been forgotten. For 1,500 children living in direct provision, the paltry weekly payment of €9.60 has not increased for the sixteenth year in a row. This is at odds with the recommendation of the Working Group Report on Direct Provision and Asylum, published in June. In addition, there are 1,496 children current living in emergency accommodation and huge pressure on families in the private sector who are at risk of homelessness. The Budget did not take steps to prevent family homelessness through increasing the Rent Supplement limits.
Notes to Editor
• Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance is available for interview.
• The Children’s Rights Alliance will tomorrow publish a comprehensive Post-Budget Analysis highlighting the impact of Budget 2016 on children and families.
For further information, please contact:
Emma McKinley, Communications and Development Manager
Tel: 087 655 9067 / (01) 662 9400