No Hiding Place from 1% Levy

Published date: 
13 Oct 2008

Tuesday 14 October 2008: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Children’s Rights Alliance Budget Statement

“The Children’s Rights Alliance is disappointed with the Minister for
Finance Brian Lenihan TD’s first budget, as the small print relating to
its claims of targeted spending in education, health and social welfare
becomes clearer. Amidst the international banking crisis, we
acknowledge cuts would have to be made, but Budget 2009, despite the
intentions of the former Minister for Children, will do little to
‘protect the most vulnerable in society’. The call for ‘solidarity’ and
for the nation to ‘all pull together’ is misplaced, when careless cuts,
including a 1% levy, will drive more children into poverty, rather than
lift them out of it.

That said, there have been some saving graces. The €2 increase in the
Qualified Child Increase (QCI), although modest, is to be welcomed. The
QCI is one of the few existing measures to target income support
towards the poorest families – those that are completely dependent on
social welfare. The desperate state of our school buildings has not
been ignored in this budget. The €581 million dedicated to primary and
secondary school infrastructure is an important investment in the
longer-term standard of Irish schools, and is welcomed by the Alliance.

However, for families on low incomes, the 1% levy will be a hit
significant enough to topple some families below the poverty line. Over
230,000 children are at risk of poverty in Ireland, almost 1 in 4 –
today’s Budget is set to increase this figure. There is no hiding place
from the 1% levy. We reject Minister’s Lenihan’s suggestion that
universal entitlements fail to target those in greatest need. Universal
Child Benefit is about equity and how society values children. Its
taxation will not save money for Minister Lenihan. The Commission for
Taxation will find that the administrative costs of making
complementary changes will outweigh any saving.

Cuts to the Child Benefit payment to young people, who have passed the
cut off age of 18 years, but are in full time education and remain
dependent on their families, is a significant step backwards. It shows
a lack of appreciation for the vulnerability of young people at this
stage in their life – it is in all our future interests that young
people are encouraged to continue in further education. The withdrawal
of this payment will disproportionately impact on children in poorer
households where the incentive will be to find a job rather than remain
in education.

In addition, as a member of the Equality Rights Alliance, we are deeply
concerned by the drastic budget cuts to the Equality Authority and the
Irish Human Rights Commission. These bodies are central to the
framework we have established to protect and promote human rights,
including the human rights of children. While we acknowledge the
legitimate cost saving objective in the decision to integrate the
administrative functions of both offices, we are gravely concerned that
the budget cuts will dilute work programmes and compromise the scrutiny
and promotion functions of these respective bodies. This
decision is flawed and we strongly urge that it be re-examined.

Read the small print: is this Budget about cutting children out of a future?”

Jillian van Turnhout

Chief Executive

___ENDS___

For further information, please contact:

Carys Thomas, Communications Director

Tel: (01) 662 9400 / 087-7702845; Fax: (01) 662 9355

Email: carys@childrensrights.ie

Notes to Editor:

1. Our Analysis Paper on Budget 2009 and its Impact on Children will be out Thursday.
2. Our pre-budget submission is on our website at www.childrensrights.ie
3. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child guarantees an adequate
standard of living (Article 27) as a basic right for every child.
4. Social Partnership ‘Towards 2016’ commitments relating to children, include:

- Every child should grow up in a family with access to sufficient
resources, supports and services, to nurture and care for the child,
and foster the child’s development and full and equal participation in
society
- Every family should be able to access childcare services which are
appropriate to the circumstances and needs of their children;
- Every child should leave primary school literate and numerate;
- Every student should complete a senior cycle or equivalent programme,
(including ICT) appropriate to their capacity and interests;
- Every child should have access to world-class health, personal social services and suitable accommodation;
- Every child should have access to quality play, sport, recreation and
cultural activities to enrich their experience of childhood, and;
- Every child and young person will have access to appropriate participation in local and national decision-making

Creator: 
Children's Rights Alliance