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Comprehensive approach by Executive must challenge levels of child poverty - McGill

12 November, 2009 - by Michaela Boyle

Sinn Féin MLA and spokesperson on poverty, Claire McGill, has stated that the latest report by the Joseph Rowntree foundation highlights the need for a comprehensive approach by the Assembly and the Executive to tackle child poverty.

Speaking today Ms McGill said:

“The fact that levels of child poverty with the north of Ireland are double that of Britain shows that this is an issue that cannot be ignored.  Our future lies with our children and their experiences and to have a large number in negative situations with poor prospects is a travesty.

“The British government has given a commitment to eradicate child poverty by 2020. If this is to be the case we must see seriously increased levels of investment into programmes to seriously tackle the scourge of child poverty within the north.

“We also must take a comprehensive approach and develop a cross departmental strategy in the Executive in order to meet the necessary challenge ahead of us. So many departments can make an input to affect change.

“We have seen positive measures such as free school uniform grants to primary schools from the Education Minister and the one off payment of £150 to tackle the fuel crisis to households coming from the Executive but we can do more.

“For instance, DSD have a responsibility for social welfare and increase flexibility in access and attainment of benefits, the health budget is impacted due to treating the symptoms of fuel poverty with one in three children in fuel poverty presenting to A&E with respiratory illnesses, and DEL have a duty to encourage the provision of affordable childcare facilities by employers.

“If we fail to do this we will be indicted for failing our future and condemning our children to a suffering that can be alleviated with the proper approach and right attitude.”

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