Governments’ lack of action on child poverty unacceptable
Sinn Féin’s Children & Youth Affairs spokesperson Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has criticised the failure of the government to tackle poverty in their budget proposals.
Speaking after today’s debate on the Social Welfare bill the deputy criticised the lack of any focused and action on reducing child poverty.
Teachta Ó Laoghaire said;
“It is a sign of this Government’s priorities that some of the key proposals to tackle poverty advocated not only by Sinn Féin, but also by Barnardos, Early Childhood Ireland and other key stakeholders, have not been taken on board. The lack of focus and action by the Government on child poverty is unacceptable.
“The change in the cut off for the one-parent family payment was one of the most vindictive and vicious cuts of the last government, and remains at seven years, which is appalling.
“It has been well documented that the lone parent reforms have had the effect of reducing household income and creating a disincentive to return to work.
“The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Report has also recommended this cut be reversed.
“Lone Parents are among the most marginalised and generally among the poorest in our society. It doesn't become cheaper to raise a child after the age of seven. I urge the government to revisit this cut.
“It is inadequate to see a paltry €5 increase to maternity benefit in this budget. Ireland ranks 32nd out of 34 OECD countries when it comes to maternity benefit.
“Sinn Féin allocated an increase of two weeks and €40 in the payment, as we acknowledge that maternity benefit required a significant monetary increase to prevent mothers being forced back to work early due to financial constraints.
“They also failed to deal with in work poverty, and the lack of action on FIS is a significant element of this. This means that some parents are better off on jobseekers than on FIS. Similarly there was nothing on the back to school clothing and footwear allowance.
“Measures like this are all crucial to addressing child poverty. A study published by UNICEF in 2014 placed Ireland 37th out of 41 developed countries in the protection of children from poverty during the global financial crash.
“This government must begin to reverse the mistakes of the past if it is to go in anyway close to addressing the issue of both relative and consistent poverty that has been prevalent in Irish society for both their terms in office.
“I wish to express my concern in this regard and hope that Minister Zappone will put pressure on the relevant offices to address poverty in areas of disadvantage as a matter of urgency.”