More could have been done for the poorest children

Older children living in poverty have been “overlooked”

New measures to help families to keep their heads above water are welcome, but a more joined-up approach is needed to make inroads in tackling child poverty says the Children’s Rights Alliance.

Commenting on Budget 2022, Tanya Ward, CEO of the Children’s Rights Alliance said the budget included some important measures for children, young people and their families.

“The €4m allocation to the hot school meals programme is welcome as we know that children do better in school when they have a hot meal. We know that the €10 increase in the Back-to-School Clothing and Footwear Allowance will help parents with high school costs and we particularly note that more lone parents will be able to access this vital support.”

She added: “In particular, we welcome the record €716m investment in the early years sector which is significant and will go a long way in helping to improve quality and sustainability in the sector which can only be a good thing for young children. It is positive that the proposed changes to the National Childcare Scheme will unlock access to childcare for up to five thousand of our most disadvantaged children and young people.”

The additional €10.5m for Garda operations including for the Garda National Protective Services Bureau is an important investment in terms of online safety is another positive element considered by the Children’s Rights Alliance. “We note the announcement of €5.5m for the proposed Media Commission but we are concerned that it will fall far short of the resources required to tackle the growing area of online safety as well as ensuring it can carry out all of its other functions.”

However, while the €5 increase to core adult social welfare rates is welcome, older children living in poverty have been “overlooked” the Children’s Rights Alliance feel.

“An extra €3 a week won’t even cover their lunch for a day, especially with the cost of living on the rise.

“Budget 2022 contains clear measures that will address child poverty particularly when it comes to education, health and nutrition. Child poverty is on the rise in Ireland, and it has no doubt been negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. The impact of school closures, the curtailment of services and parental unemployment will have a major impact on a generation of young people. We need the Government to take a step back and look at the bigger picture and ensure there is a joined-up approach to tackling child poverty. We need a driver within government to deliver an ambitious national child poverty action plan. We called on the Government to invest €3.5m in an interdepartmental unit to do this.

“While Budget 2022 does not go far enough to reduce the numbers of children living in poverty, it is a good start. We have an opportunity now to build on these measures given we have to provide a national child poverty action plan to the EU in March 2022. We need to see more ambition from Government to ensure that every child can have a decent childhood.”