Child Poverty: Motion (Resumed) [Private Members]

The following motion was moved by Deputy Jennifer Whitmore on Wednesday, 30 September 2020:
"That Dáil Éireann:
notes:
— that child poverty is an indictment of our State, robbing children of their childhoods, their health and well-being and squanders a child’s potential later in life;
— that consistent child poverty is the harshest form of poverty where children live in households below 60 per cent of the national median income, and experience deprivation based on 11 deprivation indicators;
— that despite the removal of 14,000 children from consistent child poverty during the lifetime of previous Governments (between 2011 and 2018) the number of children at risk of poverty or in consistent poverty remains unacceptably high, over 200,000 children are currently at risk of poverty and among these children more than 90,000 are in consistent poverty;
— that the previous Government’s target to reduce the number in child poverty by 70,000 by the end of this year, as indicated in the publication, Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures: The National Policy Framework for Children and Young People, 2014-2020 (Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures), will not be reached;
— that this wholly unambitious target is unlikely to offset the Economic and Social Research Institute’s (ESRI) prediction of a one-quarter increase in the rate of child income poverty by the end of 2020 if the economy does not recover due to the Covid-19 pandemic;
— that the Government has recommitted to the original target stated in Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures, in the Roadmap for Social Inclusion 2020-2025 and in the Programme for Government, however, very significant action will be needed in order to achieve these targets;
— the regrettable reality that child poverty rates in Ireland doubled during the last recession resulting in one in every five children currently at risk of poverty
— a stark reminder of the risk for children in the current recession caused by the Covid-19 pandemic;
— that for many children, the current recession will be the second one in their lifetimes, meaning for some, they will never have benefited from improved economic conditions;
— that children who experience poverty have poorer physical and mental health, experience social and educational deprivation, contributing to a lower sense of well-being and less opportunities later in life; and
— that investing in poverty reduction measures leads to better outcomes not only for children and their families, but for society as a whole;
acknowledges that:
— this Government has an opportunity to end consistent child poverty in Ireland once and for all;
— the upcoming Budget 2021 is an opportunity to allocate the necessary resources to address consistent child poverty in this State; and
— a systemic approach to ending child poverty is required in Ireland, reflecting the ambition of the European Union (EU) Child Guarantee that every child in Europe should have access to free healthcare, free childcare, decent housing and adequate nutrition with a primary focus on disadvantaged children, including those experiencing poverty, ethnic minority children and refugee children;
calls on the Government to:
— agree to a new and ambitious target of eliminating consistent child poverty within the lifetime of this Dáil;
— legislate for the target to eliminate consistent child poverty within the lifetime of the current Dáil;
— ensure the establishment of an Oireachtas Special Oversight Committee on Child Poverty to monitor the implementation of this target;
— establish a cross-Departmental Child Poverty Unit headed by the Department of the Taoiseach, tasked with the following:
— develop a comprehensive all-of-Government strategy and implementation plan to meet the target of eliminating consistent child poverty within the lifetime of this Dáil;
— ensure that the elimination of consistent child poverty target is a central focus in the new National Children and Young People’s Strategy;
— present an annual report to the Oireachtas Special Oversight Committee on Child Poverty on the progress of the implementation of this strategy and the implementation plan for the new target;
— establishing interim targets between annual budgetary cycles;
— undertake a child poverty audit of all policies across key Departments affecting children and their rights, ensuring that all annual budgets and Departmental budgetary decisions are poverty-proofed, transparent and fair;
— assist in the design of national initiatives to end child poverty;
— reform the current way in which child poverty and overall poverty is measured using the EU Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) data and minimal essential budgets;
— carry out research and make recommendations to the Government on the required levels of investment for services that focus on inclusive universal health development services, early years education, school supports, disability supports, social housing, childcare and one parent family supports in line with EU Child Guarantee ambitions; and
— monitor the State’s implementation of the EU Child Guarantee and Article 27 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child; and
— ensure that adequate funds and resources are provided to facilitate the establishment of the cross-Departmental unit."
Debate resumed on amendment No. 1:
To delete all words after “Dáil Éireann” and substitute the following:
"commits strongly to the principle that Government should ensure the best start possible for every child, underpinned by the principles of social justice, equality and fairness;
recognises the need for a renewed, target-led, cross-Departmental approach to tackling child poverty through continued collaboration on the Cabinet Committee on Social Affairs and Equality, and through a cross-Government focus on child poverty in the successor framework to Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures: The National Policy Framework for Children and Young People, 2014-2020 (Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures);
supports the overall work being co-ordinated by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs through the Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures process;
commits to establish and report on a new, ambitious target in respect of child poverty, within the context of the successor strategy for Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures, with the aim of reducing the percentage of children under the age of 18 who are at risk of poverty and social exclusion;
welcomes:
— the recent budgets which have included measures specifically aimed at supporting families on low incomes through increases in qualified child rates, including:
— the introduction of separate rates for children aged under and over 12;
— increases in earnings disregards for One Parent Family and Jobseeker Transition payments;
— increases in the income thresholds for the Working Family Payment;
— the introduction of a maintenance disregard for the Working Family Payment; and
— an increase in the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance;
— the overall increase of €93 million or 6.2 per cent over 2019 in the 2020 Estimate Vote of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs with an additional €54 million committed to the National Childcare Scheme (NCS), and an additional €31 million for Tusla;
— the increased investment in early learning and care over the past five budgets and the Government’s commitment to ensuring that high quality developmentally-appropriate early learning and care is accessible and affordable for families throughout Ireland and reflects diversity of need; and
— the establishment of the NCS, which is the first ever statutory entitlement to financial support for childcare;
recognises the Budget 2020 impact on children which included:
— a €3 increase for qualified child dependants aged 12 and over, from €37 to €40, and a €2 increase for qualified child dependants up to age 12, from €34 to €36, in all weekly payments from January 2020;
— an extension of the Hot School Meals scheme for up to 35,000 additional school children;
— the increase for working lone parents in receipt of a One-Parent Family payment or Jobseekers Transitional payment by €15 to €165 per week; and
— an increase of €10 per week in the income thresholds for families with up to three children;
welcomes the publication and ongoing implementation of First Five as a whole-of-Government strategy to improve the lives of babies, young children in the birth to five year age range, and the lives of their families;
further recognises the work of the National Advisory Council under the Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures framework and the whole-of-Government working which takes a co-ordinated and collaborative approach in tackling child poverty and emphasises the need for a combined approach to tackling child poverty levels in Ireland, involving both income supports and services;
notes the commitment to reporting on the Roadmap for Social Inclusion 2020 – 2025, which will be implemented by the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection;
acknowledges that, despite the removal of 14,000 children from consistent child poverty during the lifetime of previous Governments (between 2011 and 2018), the number of children at risk of poverty or in consistent poverty remains a significant concern — 190,000 children are currently at risk of poverty and among these children, more than 90,000 are in consistent poverty and that the previous Government’s target to reduce child poverty by 70,000 by the end of this year as indicated in Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures, will not be reached;
recognises that the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic will, without appropriate intervention, lead to an increase in the numbers of children experiencing poverty;
notes:
— the Programme for Government commitment to work across Government to address food poverty in children and ensure that no child goes hungry; and
— the Department of Education and Skills initiative of Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools (DEIS) aimed at tackling educational disadvantage in primary and post primary schools in the DEIS Plan 2017, which sets out the vision for future interventions on the critical area of educational disadvantage policy;
further welcomes:
— the recently commissioned baseline research on child poverty on Income, Poverty and Deprivation among children by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, which shows that child poverty rates have reduced for young children, down 12.2 per cent between 2010 and 2018, and for young adults, down 10.3 per cent, and that this research is informing Government on current approaches to ending child poverty;
— the publication of the recently commissioned research by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs in conjunction with the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) on the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions on children and young people, in particular, reports and reviews are welcomed on the research evidence in the areas of family and peer relationships, health and wellbeing, education (from early childhood to third level) and post-school transitions to provide insights into the potential consequences of the current crisis from infancy to early adulthood;
— that in 2018, Ireland had the lowest poverty rate among children aged 0-5 years in the European Union, however, acknowledging that those children aged 6-11 years are showing a worrying trend of increasing income poverty and consistent poverty; and
— the fact the consistent child poverty rate has dropped by 5 per cent between 2014 and 2018; and
further notes the Government’s commitment to initiate and set a new target on consistent child poverty and to include the new target in the successor cross-Government framework to Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures.”
- (Minister for Children and Youth Affairs)

I must now deal with a postponed division relating to the motion regarding child poverty. On Wednesday, 30 September 2020, on the question that the amendment to the motion be agreed to, a division was claimed and in accordance with Standing Order 80(2), that division must be taken now.

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 80; Níl, 61; Staon, 0.

  • Berry, Cathal.
  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Browne, James.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Colm.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Cahill, Jackie.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Carroll MacNeill, Jennifer.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Costello, Patrick.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Crowe, Cathal.
  • Devlin, Cormac.
  • Dillon, Alan.
  • Donnelly, Stephen.
  • Duffy, Francis Noel.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Feighan, Frankie.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flaherty, Joe.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Higgins, Emer.
  • Hourigan, Neasa.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • Leddin, Brian.
  • MacSharry, Marc.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • Matthews, Steven.
  • McAuliffe, Paul.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murnane O'Connor, Jennifer.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Murphy, Verona.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Noonan, Malcolm.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Brien, Joe.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Connor, James.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Gorman, Roderic.
  • O'Sullivan, Christopher.
  • O'Sullivan, Pádraig.
  • Ó Cathasaigh, Marc.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Richmond, Neale.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Shanahan, Matt.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smyth, Niamh.
  • Smyth, Ossian.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Troy, Robert.

Níl

  • Andrews, Chris.
  • Barry, Mick.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Brady, John.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Cairns, Holly.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Carthy, Matt.
  • Clarke, Sorca.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Conway-Walsh, Rose.
  • Cronin, Réada.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Daly, Pa.
  • Donnelly, Paul.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Farrell, Mairéad.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Funchion, Kathleen.
  • Gannon, Gary.
  • Guirke, Johnny.
  • Harkin, Marian.
  • Healy-Rae, Danny.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kenny, Gino.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Kerrane, Claire.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McNamara, Michael.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Mythen, Johnny.
  • Nash, Ged.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Nolan, Carol.
  • O'Callaghan, Cian.
  • O'Donoghue, Richard.
  • O'Rourke, Darren.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Ó Murchú, Ruairí.
  • Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Ryan, Patricia.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Bríd.
  • Smith, Duncan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tully, Pauline.
  • Ward, Mark.
  • Whitmore, Jennifer.
  • Wynne, Violet-Anne.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Brendan Griffin and Jack Chambers; Níl, Deputies Holly Cairns and Jennifer Whitmore.
Amendment declared carried.
Question put: "That the motion, as amended, be agreed to."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 79; Níl, 58; Staon, 0.

  • Berry, Cathal.
  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Browne, James.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Colm.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Cahill, Jackie.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Carroll MacNeill, Jennifer.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Costello, Patrick.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Crowe, Cathal.
  • Devlin, Cormac.
  • Dillon, Alan.
  • Donnelly, Stephen.
  • Duffy, Francis Noel.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Feighan, Frankie.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flaherty, Joe.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Higgins, Emer.
  • Hourigan, Neasa.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • Leddin, Brian.
  • MacSharry, Marc.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • Matthews, Steven.
  • McAuliffe, Paul.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murnane O'Connor, Jennifer.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Murphy, Verona.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Noonan, Malcolm.
  • O'Brien, Joe.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Connor, James.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Gorman, Roderic.
  • O'Sullivan, Christopher.
  • O'Sullivan, Pádraig.
  • Ó Cathasaigh, Marc.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Richmond, Neale.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Shanahan, Matt.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smyth, Niamh.
  • Smyth, Ossian.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Troy, Robert.

Níl

  • Andrews, Chris.
  • Barry, Mick.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Brady, John.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Cairns, Holly.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Carthy, Matt.
  • Clarke, Sorca.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Conway-Walsh, Rose.
  • Cronin, Réada.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Daly, Pa.
  • Donnelly, Paul.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Farrell, Mairéad.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Funchion, Kathleen.
  • Gannon, Gary.
  • Guirke, Johnny.
  • Harkin, Marian.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kenny, Gino.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Kerrane, Claire.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McNamara, Michael.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Mythen, Johnny.
  • Nash, Ged.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Nolan, Carol.
  • O'Callaghan, Cian.
  • O'Rourke, Darren.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Ó Murchú, Ruairí.
  • Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Ryan, Patricia.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Bríd.
  • Smith, Duncan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tully, Pauline.
  • Ward, Mark.
  • Whitmore, Jennifer.
  • Wynne, Violet-Anne.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Brendan Griffin and Jack Chambers; Níl, Deputies Holly Cairns and Jennifer Whitmore.
Question declared carried.
The Dáil adjourned at 10.40 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Thursday, 1 October 2020.