Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Questions (1414)

Carol Nolan


1414. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if an assessment has been conducted on the level of child poverty or children at risk of poverty in counties Laois and Offaly; if statistics are available with respect to same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18868/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

The annual Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) is conducted by the Central Statistics Office and is the official source of data on household and equivalised disposable income in Ireland. It provides a number of key national poverty indicators, including the ‘at risk of poverty’ rate, the ‘consistent poverty rate’ and ‘rates of enforced deprivation’. Poverty data within SILC is available under a range of different headings including by age, principal economic status, household composition, urban/rural location and region, amongst others. However poverty data is not provided at county level.

The latest data from the 2017 Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) show the consistent poverty rate for children in 2017 was 8.8%. This is a reduction of over 2% from the 2016 rate of 10.9% and the second highest reduction since the collection of SILC data began in 2004. The 2017 at-risk-of-poverty rate for children was 18.4%, a slight reduction on the 2016 figure of 19.1% while the deprivation rate was 23.0%, down from 25.0% in 2016.

In 2014, as part of the National Policy Framework for Children and Young People (Better Outcomes Brighter Futures) the Government set an ambitious and challenging child poverty target: to lift 70,000 children out of consistent poverty by 2020, a reduction of at least two thirds on the 2011 level. The number of children in consistent poverty rose significantly from the 2011 baseline figure of 107,000 to a high of 152,000 in 2014. The 2017 SILC data indicate that there were 105,000 children in consistent poverty in 2017, a decrease of 25,000 children on 2016. This means that a revised figure of 68,000 children have to be lifted out of consistent poverty to meet the target by 2020.

It should be noted that the most recently available poverty data is based on income and living conditions data from 2017. The full benefit of the growing economy and the increases introduced in Budgets 2018 and 2019 have yet to be seen. Budget 2019, in line with budgets over the past 3 years, included measures specifically aimed at supporting families on low incomes through increases in qualified child rates (including the introduction of a higher rate for children over 12 years of age), increases in earnings disregards for One Parent Family and Jobseeker Transition payments, the introduction of a maintenance payment disregard for the Working Family Payment, an increase in the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance and the introduction of a hot meals pilot in the School Meals programme.

These increased supports along with increasing employment rates suggest that we can expect further decreases in the poverty rates once the 2018 figures become available.