Chief Executive, Jillian van Turnhout
Children’s Rights Alliance
“The current economic crisis presents difficult choices. But upholding children’s rights makes economic sense. Children are our future, yet that future hangs in the balance. This Budget is a mixed bag for children, as the Government gives with one hand, while taking from the other.
The positive is that the Government has at last recognised the value of quality Early Childhood Education and Care (ECCE), by replacing the Early Childcare Supplement with a free year for pre-school children. The Alliance has always maintained that this is the way forward for children’s development, education and well-being. The country also wins from this decision, as for every euro spent in ECCE a return of over €7 can be expected. Study upon study show that investing in ECCE brings about better educated, healthier children with better life chances. And that is good for the country.
However, the devil is in the detail and we need to keep a very close eye on the Government to ensure quality services are delivered. Even with today’s welcomed announcement, Ireland’s investment still falls well below the OECD average of 0.5% of GDP spent on early childhood services.
This is an inconsistent Budget that has raised real concerns by threatening the most basic payment for all children. Any proposal to tax or means-test Child Benefit in the future is a disaster – not only for children, but Ireland as a whole. The Alliance wrote to the Minister for Finance, Brian Lenihan TD, raising these concerns in great detail. Raiding the piggy-banks of children is not the solution to our economic crisis, and it will ultimately hit the poorest families hardest. Moreover, it simply does not make economic sense: the cost and bureaucracy associated with taxing Child Benefit outweighs the revenue it would generate. In the UK, this option was explored and abandoned for this very reason.
It is also deeply disappointing that, among the small print of the Budget, we discover that the promised referendum to strengthen children’s rights in the Constitution will not take place this year. Once again, transparency on this issue is missing.
The Alliance will issue a full analysis of the Budget in relation to its impact on children tomorrow afternoon.”
Jillian van Turnhout
Notes to editor:
1. The Children’s Rights Alliance’s Analysis of the Supplementary Budget 2009 and its Impact on Children will be available tomorrow afternoon. For copies, please contact email@example.com
2. The Alliance’s letter to the Minister for Finance, Brian Lenihan TD, is also available from firstname.lastname@example.org