Sinn Féin MLA, Megan Fearon, has said that she is shocked at the findings by the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) indicating that Relative Child Poverty and Absolute Child Poverty figures will climb to 30.9% and 38.5% respectively by 2020-21.
Commenting on the IFS Briefing Note, Ms. Fearon said that the figures are a disaster for those families and children directly affected and are an indictment of the British Government’s tax and benefits policies which are clearly targeted at making the lives of the most disadvantaged even more difficult.
Ms. Fearon said,
“The Child Poverty Act sets us a target of reducing Relative Child Poverty to less than 10% and Absolute Child Poverty to less than 5% by 2020 yet the IFS report is unequivocal in stating; ‘the child poverty figures set out in the 2010 Child Poverty Act are unachievable’.
“This report pulls no punches, making it clear that the rise in child poverty is a direct consequence of the tax and benefit policies being pursued by Westminster.
“Given these findings I think that it is imperative that the Executive continues its Delivering Social Change agenda and where possible seeks, with the co-operation of all Ministers, to examine where additional resources could be found.
“I would call on all Ministers to review their budgets with a view to re-prioritising spend not just to assist the most disadvantaged within our society but also to live up to the Assembly and Executive’s Programme for Government (PfG) commitments.
“Practical step that all Departments could take would be to ensure that they act upon the PfG commitment to build Social Clauses into all contracts.
“Developing an enhanced approach to this would help assist those in long-term unemployment gain re-entry into the labour market. Additionally the Executive should seek to ensure that people are paid a Living Wage thus freeing them from dependency on the Benefits system.
Ms. Fearon added,
“There is an onus on us as political leaders to defend and assist the least well off within our society. No one can doubt that children are some of the most vulnerable within our society and unless we redouble our efforts to address child poverty then we are condemning future generations to a bleak and dissolute future.”