Children’s Rights Alliance Statement on SILC Poverty Statistics
Responding to the SILC poverty statistics released today, Children’s Rights Alliance Chief Executive Tanya Ward says:
“Today’s figures reveal just how significant an impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on children, and families across the country. It is deeply concerning that once again, children and young people continue to be the ones bearing the weight of poverty in Ireland with over 160,000 at risk of poverty.
The consistent poverty rate for 0-17 year olds decreased in 2021 from 7.2% to 5.2% meaning that almost 24,000 young people were lifted out of poverty. However, it is clear that the Covid-19 income supports that were provided by Government during the pandemic played a critical role in this decrease. When we isolate the figures without the crutch of these Covid support measures, the numbers at risk of poverty take a staggering jump. During the emerging pandemic, the Government went further than they have before to ensure that people could keep their heads above water and the figures today show the positive impact that income payments can have, particularly amongst younger age groups. Without these supports, the number of young people at risk of poverty rises to 24.2% or 288,000. The Covid-19 measures were temporary and as we saw with homelessness, the minute they are removed, families are immediately put at risk at falling into deprivation. Government need to adopt a more sustained approach to breaking the cycle of poverty and providing adequate income supports is one solution."
"The truth is, one child in poverty is too many and these figures show that when you take away Covid supports, almost half (44.9%) of one parent families are experiencing deprivation and one in five (19.9%) children are at risk of poverty. Behind these statistics, are children, young people and families who are living day after day with worry about where the next meal will come from or crippling anxiety about whether the heating can be turned on at night. For one parent families, circumstances are getting worse with 3 in 4 families reporting difficulty ‘making ends meet’ in 2021. Children living in these families still experience the highest levels of consistent poverty. Given the current cost of living crisis, this is deeply concerning.”
“In Ireland, this is the reality for 580,000 people – living with the constant shadow of poverty on their shoulder. The responsibility to break this cycle of economic disadvantage and social injustice sits on the shoulder of decision makers. We know that poverty can impact every aspect of a child’s life – from their nutrition and education to their mental health and wellbeing. It is therefore only through a cross-governmental effort that we will be able to make any meaningful change in this area. We have seen the positive impact this can have through the progress made addressing the drivers of food poverty with the establishment of a cross-governmental Working Group focused on the issue. The National Action Plan on the EU-Child Guarantee provides the Government with the opportunity to clearly articulate how each department will leverage this commitment to truly tackle and eliminate child poverty. However, Ireland has yet to publish its plan. The Government must recognise that the issue of child poverty is a crisis requiring the same level of political commitment, innovation and drive that we saw in the response to Covid-19.”
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Notes to editor:
• Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance is available for interview.
• You can access the full data set here.
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About the Children’s Rights Alliance
Founded in 1995, the Children’s Rights Alliance unites over 140 members working together to make Ireland one of the best places in the world to be a child. Further information is available at: www.childrensrights.ie or on Twitter, @ChildRightsIRL.