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Up to 40,000 more children living in poverty since last year – Barnardos

The children’s charity estimates that there could be nearly 130,000 children living in consistent poverty in Ireland.

Image: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

FIGURES ON CHILD poverty due to be released this month are likely to show an increase of up to 40,00 children living in poverty in the past year, according to Barnardos.

Central Statistic Office figures show there were 90,000 children in Ireland living in consistent poverty in 2009. However the children’s charity has predicted that this could increase to nearly 130,000 children when latest figures are released at the end of November.

In 2009, the most recent year for which figures are available, 8.7 per cent of children lived in consistent poverty.

The last three budgets have “continuously hit the same children from different angles by targeting social welfare, education and health supports,” said Fergus Finlay, chief executive of Barnardos.

“We need to re-examine how we do things in Ireland. Savings can be made but they can no longer be made at the expense of children and families whose lives are already being made unbearable difficult by poverty and disadvantage”.

Consistent poverty for children is defined as living in a household with an income less than 60 per cent of the national median income and also experiencing deprivation based on eleven deprivation indicators. This includes going 24 hours without a substantial meal or not having a warm and waterproof coat.

In 2009 children accounted for 41.9 per cent of all those living in consistent poverty.

The charity has called on the government to make better choices when it comes to children and families.

“We know many families who are struggling to pay essential bills such as electricity and gas while still putting food on the table. The situation is quickly becoming untenable for many,” said Finlay.

The charity highlighted the increasing financial pressure many families are under, noting that there had been a decline in household income of -6.7 per cent in 2009, with 34 per cent of households in arrears on bills.

In response to Barnardos,Labour Party T.D Aodhán O’Riordáin said that dealing with child poverty must be a top priority for the government.

“It is absolutely crucial, in these difficult times, that we ensure that the most vulnerable in this society are cared for. Unfortunately, young children are a group that are particularly at risk of poverty in recessionary times. It is my belief though, that providing supports for children does more than just lift them out of poverty, but it also empowers children and provides them with a better future”.

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