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Child Poverty - Make anti-poverty goals a reality

9 January, 2008

Following the publication of the interim report on child poverty, Sinn Féin MLA Martina Anderson has said that Sinn Fein's response to the draft Programme for Budget needs to be taken on board in order that to help turn the aim of eradicating child poverty into reality.

Ms Anderson said:

"We welcome the commitment to eradicating child poverty by 2012 but share concerns at the lack of detail as to how this can be achieved. Sinn Féin has concerns not just about the overall resources available for the anti-poverty strategy but also the lack of clarity about how this money will be utilised.

"As part of our response to the Programme for Government, the Budget and the Investment Strategy, we have made a number of recommendations. This includes a review of the Tax Credit system which has seen some of the most vulnerable sections of our society hounded for the return of overpayments which occurred through no fault of their own.

"We are also calling for direct intervention in the 'benefits gap' to ensure that low-income families do not have shortfalls between benefits and rent. Sinn Féin made a number of other recommendations including;

  • more affordable childcare;
  • action to ensure the full uptake of benefit payments;
  • tighter regulations on money lending institutions;
  • DLA claims and appeals prioritized for children and the backlog addressed;
  • the establishment of a Cross-Departmental Ministerial Task Force on Fuel Poverty charged with allocating additional resources to support energy efficiency solutions for fuel poor homes as a matter of urgency.

"Sinn Féin is concerned by the many inequalities faced by children and young people. For example the statistics outlined by the Derry City Children's Commission highlight high levels of child poverty in the North West. 36% of children in Derry are living in poverty compared with the average across the North of 24%. The highest child mortality rates are also in the Western Board area while Derry has the highest proportion of young people who leave school with no qualifications.

"Sinn Féin believes that the re-establishment by the Executive of the Children's Fund would also be a strong sign of the Executive's commitment to our children and young people's futures.

"Tackling poverty and inequality are at the very core of Sinn Féin's ideals and these initiatives have been developed following widespread consultation with key stakeholders

"We believe they represent tangible ways of turning the goals of eradicating child poverty into reality and we will continue to lobby for them at every level of government." ENDS

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