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Ruane attacks gulf in child poverty spending

27 January, 2010 - by Caitríona Ruane

South Down Sinn Féin Assembly Member Caitríona Ruane has slammed the 'massive gulf' in child poverty spending between here in the Six Counties and Britain.

Ms Ruane was speaking as the Assembly committee of the First and Deputy First Minister prepared to hear evidence from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation regarding the levels of child poverty here.

She continued: "Some of the statistics provided by the foundation are shocking and they clearly expose the massive gulf in the levels of resources which are directed at this problem in Britain compared with the North of Ireland.

"For example, spending on Sure Start per child is £80 here compared to nearly £600 per child in England.

"This is despite the fact that the levels of persistent child poverty are much higher in the North - at least 21% compared to 9% in Britain.

"The difficulty in all of this is that financial responsibility and the benefits system have not been transferred to the Northern Assembly. That means the well-being of our children remains largely in the hands of British Ministers who, as these figures clearly show, have no intention or desire to seriously tackle child poverty in the Six Counties.

"So while much effort has rightly been focused on the transfer of policing and justice, the next step needs to be securing financial autonomy for the Assembly in order that local, accountable Ministers can begin taking
decisions that make a real difference to the lives of those in need."

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