Call to 'poverty-proof' budget for children
Budget 2014 needs to be “poverty-proofed” to protect vulnerable families, the chief executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance said yesterday.
Tanya Ward was speaking at the launch of the alliance’s annual report card assessing the Government’s commitments on children, which this year gave Government a fail grade in the category of child poverty.
While cuts of €136 million were made to child benefit in last year’s budget, Ms Ward said “money was not redirected into children’s services . . . and that’s what we’re very concerned about is that we are directly taking money away from vulnerable families and using it to cover bank debt”.
Sheila Greene, professor and fellow emeritus in the school of psychology, Trinity College Dublin, described the Government’s record in relation to child poverty as “intolerable”.
“We have moved, in terms of consistent poverty . . . from 6.3 per cent of Irish children in 2008 to 9.3 per cent in 2011 and we know things are getting worse,” she said.
‘Fairer in theory’
Speaking in relation to proposals put forward in the Mangan report, Catherine McGuinness, a member of the Council of State who sits on the alliance’s external assessment panel, said that “in theory” a universal child benefit payment that is taxed for those less in need is fairer than cutting child benefit across the board, but “if you’re doing that you must be sure that the money that’s raised through taxation goes back to the vulnerable children and it doesn’t just turn out to be another way of taking more money away from parents”.
Overall the Government was awarded a C grade. Ms Ward said that “next year we want to see that grade improve”.