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Do not ignore children in poverty in NI


child poverty, Northern Ireland, NICCY, NISRA, letter Child poverty is not inevitable.

There are 444,000 children in Northern Ireland, and 103,400 of these children live in poverty.

And this figure is likely to rise with the implementation of the new Universal Credit system, along with other punitive welfare cuts targeting families.

The majority – 61 per cent – live in households with at least one parent who is working.

That is almost 1 in every 4 children in Northern Ireland is living in a family that struggles to provide for their basic needs, providing a warm, adequate home, nutritious food, appropriate clothing and pay for childcare costs.

Children whose parents often have to get into debt to pay to make ends meet and do not have the means to save money for unexpected costs or family outings.

Children in poverty are twice as likely to leave school without 5 good GCSEs.

They are also more likely to suffer poor mental health and have fewer years of good physical health.

A survey recently commissioned by the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People (NICCY) showed that 75 per cent of parents said they worried about becoming poor in the future.

It also found that the majority of people in Northern Ireland – 97 per cent – felt it was important to take action to reduce child poverty, and 81 per cent said this was the responsibility of the Northern Ireland Executive.

And estimates from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) suggest that in 2017-18, 2,500 families will be over £50 worse off per week than they would have been before the introduction of the two-child cap on Tax Credits and Universal Credit.

This will affect at least 7,500 children this year, rising to at least 35,610 children in 2019-20.

Child poverty is not inevitable.

And the government could begin to eradicate child poverty in Northern Ireland by:

Meeting the material needs of children, through increasing family incomes.

This should include making sure there are sufficient, well-paid jobs for parents and young school leavers;

Ensuring that the social security system is a ‘safety net’ as intended, which prevents families falling into poverty.

Resources must be allocated to mitigate against recent changes, including the two-child limit; and

Producing a comprehensive action plan to tackle the devastating impacts of child poverty and barriers to escaping it, including introducing affordable childcare, addressing educational inequalities, preventing social exclusion and homelessness.

Join those who are taking action to address child poverty: enter your postcode here to send a message to your local decision-makers and make sure they know what needs to be done to start eradicating child poverty in Northern Ireland – and that you want it done.

You can also use the template letter NICCY has drafted – and add information about your own concerns on child poverty as you wish.

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