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One in Seven Children in Ireland at Risk of Poverty, Latest Figures Show

One in seven children in Ireland face poverty, according to the latest figures

The number of children at risk of poverty last year stood at 190,000, which makes up 15.2pc of all children, the Poverty Focus 2023 study outlines.

However, this number has decreased from one in five children in recent years.

While prioritising households with the least resources helped decrease the poverty figures, these anti-poverty measures need to be sustained and Budget 2024 was lacking on this front, according to Social Justice Ireland.

Speaking at the launch of the study, chief executive John McGeady said: “Despite some recent progress, our long-standing failure as a society to adequately engage with the issue of child poverty and drive substantial and permanent reductions in it, is building long-term problems for those currently experiencing child poverty and for our society.”

Statistics are based on the most recent data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO), which was obtained last year. Findings show that one in eight people in Ireland live on an income below the poverty line. This applies to 13.1pc of the population or 670,000 people.

In addition, 6pc of those employed are living at risk of poverty, which makes up 130,000 people.

Social Justice Ireland says this is as a result of the persistent problem with low earnings as there was little movement of poverty figures in this group.

One in five people (21.4pc) living below the poverty line are aged above 65 years while 19pc of this group live in relative income poverty.

Meanwhile, the report shows the poverty rate in Ireland has fallen since 2016 due to increased support for welfare- dependent households.

Suzanne Rogers, research and policy analyst at Social Justice Ireland, said: “Despite the recent and welcome increased political focus on child poverty, Budget 2024 did not contain the measures that would tackle child poverty, that would put more income into poorer families’ pockets and make the public services they rely on more available and more affordable.”

While the Budget introduced the Free School Book Scheme, National Childcare Scheme funding, the Hot School Meals Programme and decreasing maintenance grant thresholds, Ms Rogers regards them as “insufficient”.

“Child poverty solutions hinge on issues such as adequate adult welfare rates, decent rates of pay and conditions for working parents and aspiring parents, and adequate and available public services,” she said.

“Child benefit also remains a key route to tackling child poverty.”

Social Justice Ireland said measures such as small increases in welfare, higher increases in earnings and reductions in income taxation will increase inequality as the impact of inflation is the most severe on low-income households.

“Social Justice Ireland continues to call on the Government to increase core social welfare rates by the full €25 per week necessary to cover the cost of inflation as a move towards benchmarking social welfare rates,” Mr McGeady said.

Source : Independent