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Living below the poverty line: There are ‘one in every seven children’ currently living in poverty

Photo by Apollo22 for Pixabay

Social Justice Ireland highlights that there are almost 190.000 children living below the poverty line due to a low income of their household. Over 15% of all children under the age of 17 are at risk of poverty which is linked to the household’s income and their family. To decrease this number the Social Justice Ireland organisation requires the policy to “prioritise and resource tackling child poverty.” This also includes an increase in social welfare payments. Even though the situation has improved over the recent years the scale of child poverty “remains alarming”, the independent think tank has warned.

Photo by Frantisek Krejci for Pixabay.

The actual poverty line is set at an income of €318.53 per week for each person and is increased by €105.11 for each child. That means that if a household increases in size, they automatically require a higher income to be able to meet the basic standard of living. But even though most of the people in a household are working they are still earning a low income which has led to a high poverty level for employed people. The SJI therefore requires more social welfare by the government as the income is linked to child poverty.

“We are not talking about the smashed avocado on toast or the triple choc caramel macchiato. We are talking about not having the heat on, not eating dinner seven days a week,” says Susanne Rogers, the research and policy analyst of the SJI.

The organisation also requires new anti-child poverty ambitions which includes adequate payments for children and a universal basic income system. In contrast to that an analysis by the SJI found out that the current weekly social assistant rates for single people are €98 below the poverty line. Even the planned budget for 2024 will be €86 below.

Targeted tax reforms will be needed, the organisation claims for. “You can’t have high taxes and social welfare at the same time,” says Susanne Rogers. However, the SJI analysis reveals that the last budgets from the government more tended to be an improvement for people with a higher income rather than for people with low salaries. Regarding the child poverty there will be less money for children in poor households as a consequence.

The Children’s Society

Susanne Rogers also examines the effects for children in terms of their health connected to poverty. “It is probably going to lead to a shorter life,” she says. Children who experience poverty at a very early stage have a higher risk of health problems such as heart diseases or a shorter life expectancy according to children’s bureau.

To improve the current situation for children and poor households, Social Justice Ireland requires actions by the government and policy makers. This includes that social welfare rates need to increase by €25 a week and a prioritization for vulnerable people such as children. In other words, the non-profit organisation wants this and the next government “to put more income in the pockets of poor families and make the public services they rely on more available and more affordable” to decrease child poverty. 

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