Tackling poverty continues to be a priority for Government. The updated national action plan for social inclusion identifies a wide range of targeted actions and interventions to achieve the overall objective of reducing poverty. The national social target is to reduce consistent poverty to 4% by 2016 and to 2% or less by 2020.
The CSO survey on income and living conditions, SILC, for 2014 shows that 11.2 % of children were in consistent poverty, a slight decrease on the 2013 rate of 11.7%. The full impact of the recovery is not yet reflected in these figures. Ireland has returned to strong economic and employment growth. The monthly unemployment rate in September 2016 announced by the CSO this week was 7.9%, down from a peak of 15% in 2012. As unemployment is strongly linked to poverty, we can expect further decreases in poverty as the figures for 2015 and 2016 become available.
Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures, the national policy framework for children and young people, published by the former Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Deputy Frances Fitzgerald, in 2014, includes a specific target to reduce child poverty by two thirds by 2020. Meeting this target means lifting 97,000 children out of poverty. Under this framework, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs in collaboration with my Department and other relevant Departments is taking a whole-of-Government approach to tackling child poverty.
Social transfers play a crucial role in alleviating poverty and inequality. In 2014, social transfers reduced the at-risk-of-poverty rate in Ireland from 37.2% to 15.6%, thereby lifting over a fifth of the population out of income poverty. Ireland is among the best performing EU member states in reducing poverty through social transfers. Continued economic recovery, together with Government action to sustain and develop the social welfare system, will support further reductions in poverty over the coming years. Reducing child poverty is not just about income supports and welfare. It is also about getting into work and reducing the cost of living for families, which includes child care, education and health.