By Ann Marie Foley - 22 January, 2015
The number of children living in consistent poverty has risen to nearly 12% (up from around 10% in 2012) according to the latest Central Statistics Office figures.
Child charity Barnardos has described the figures as “a shaming national scandal”.
The CSO figures for 2013, which were released on Wednesday (21 January), reveal the shocking extent of child poverty in Ireland during the tail end of the recession according to the charity.
Social Justice Ireland (SJI) highlighted that there are 698,000 people still in poverty in Ireland.
Even though the poverty line has fallen by 16% since 2008, nearly one in seven people in Ireland are in poverty. Over 211,000 of these are children.
Barnardos explained that the 12% increase in the number of children living in ‘consistent poverty’ means they are living both at risk of poverty and experiencing deprivation, and almost one in eight children or more than the total population of Co Mayo are in this situation.
“How many times do we need to hear about the inexorable rise in child poverty figures in Ireland before we take decisive action? It should be a national scandal that well over a third (37.3%) of children are experiencing deprivation,” said Fergus Finlay, CEO of Barnardos.
“This means too many children are living without access to basic necessities through no fault of their own or their parents. They are going without warm winter clothing, living in substandard housing and even going hungry,” he said.
He called for decisive action both for our children and for the future of Ireland.
These are the children who may be the early school leavers, the ones who will live a life of dependency and alienation. Barnardos has had experience that if this vicious cycle is not broken its effects will last for generations.
Fergus Finlay feels that this is not inevitable, rather it is as a result of poor decision-making.
Improvements in this area are needed and a serious look at how social welfare and tax decisions disproportionately affect low income families.
“What’s most scandalous is that, in a real sense, we know where these children live. We know the communities in which poverty and disadvantage are most embedded. We know the children who are of most concern to public health nurses. We know the children who are experiencing developmental delay, and speech and language difficulties, essentially because of poverty and because we have chosen for years to turn a blind eye to it,” Mr Finlay said.
He added that although the figures date from 2013 there is nothing to suggest that the situation is improving.
He said it needs to be a real national priority and government departments and agencies must work together better to break the cycle of poverty.
This can be done by choosing to:
– increase child benefit
-support lone parents better
– adequately fund Tusla
– invest in universal services
-invest in helping children go to school and keeping them in school.
SJI also states that the Government did have choices. However, the choices it made resulted in 8.2% of the population living in consistent poverty.
This equates to over 376,000 people. This is double the figure in 2008, when 4.2% of the population were in consistent poverty.
The figures from the Central Statistics Office show a sharp increase in the number of people experiencing deprivation.
Almost a third of Ireland’s population, or 1.4 million people are deprived of basic essentials, like a warm winter coat, or adequate heating.
Over 440,000 of these people are children, and over 90,000 are pensioners. Almost one in three children aged under 18, and roughly one in six people aged over 65 experienced deprivation.
More people are under the poverty line which has fallen by 16% from €12,409 in 2008 to €10,425 in 2013.
*CSO Annual Survey on Income and Living Conditions 2013.