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 (or 107,000 children).
To achieve this target the Government undertook to adopt a multi-dimensional, whole-of-Government approach which would build on the lifecycle approach employed in the National Action Plan for Social Inclusion (NAPinclusion) and be informed by the European Commission’s Recommendation on ‘Investing in children: Breaking the cycle of disadvantage’, as part of the Social Investment Package.’
As the Financial Crisis progressed, the number of children living in consistent poverty rose and peaked at 150,000 by 2013. It has since fallen significantly and stood at 105,000 by 2017, the most recent year for which the SILC data is available. The 2017 SILC data indicates that there was a reduction of 25,000 children living in consistent poverty between 2016 and 2017. Budgets 2018 and 2019 included DEASP measures specifically aimed at supporting families on low incomes through raising income thresholds for the Working Family Payment, increasing qualified child rates, increasing earnings disregards for One Parent Family and Jobseeker Transition payments, and increasing the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance. These improved supports – along with ongoing improvements in the labour market– are not reflected in the 2017 SILC data. This would suggest that we can expect further reductions in the child poverty rates once the 2018 figures become available.
The forthcoming National Action Plan for Social Inclusion – ‘A Roadmap for Social Inclusion: Ambitions, Goals, Commitments 2019-2025 ’ – is currently being developed following consultation with relevant Government Departments and other stakeholders and is aimed at addressing the challenge to overcoming poverty in Irish society, with a proposed six year timeframe covering the period 2019 – 2025. It will continue to have a ‘whole of government’ approach which recognises the shared responsibility across Government to achieve improved outcomes for the most vulnerable and marginalised in our society, including proposals to further assist families with children.
I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.