New Figures | 

Child poverty statistics confirm need for €20 social welfare increase

SJI believes core welfare payments should be raised by a further €8

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Neasa CumiskeySunday World

New statistics on child deprivation confirm the need to further raise social welfare rates, Social Justice Ireland (SJI) has said.

The Government pledged to increase weekly core welfare rates by €12 when the Budget 2023 was announced last week – the biggest yearly increase of rates in almost 20 years.

However, according to SJI, this increase “lags behind anticipated inflation for necessities in the coming year”.

SJI believes core welfare payments should be raised by a further €8, meaning those eligible would receive a weekly increase of €20.

“A €20 boost was the minimum required to set Government on the path to benchmark rates to 27.5pc of average weekly earnings over a two-year period. This was the target set by Government in 2007,” said Susanne Rogers, Research and Policy Analyst with SJI.

The group were commenting as the Central Statistics Office (CSO) yesterday published a survey on income and living conditions on child deprivation in 2021.

The findings revealed that more than one in ten (12.4pc) single-parent households were unable to afford two pairs of properly fitting shoes for their children. The comparable rate for two-parent households was 1pc.

9.7pc of single-parent households could not afford to pay for school trips or school events for their children compared with 2pc of two-parent households.

Almost four in ten (39.2pc) households that rent could not afford a one-week holiday away from home for their children, five times higher than the rate for owner-occupied households (7.9pc).

A fifth (20.6pc) of households where nobody worked were unable to afford to pay for regular leisure activities such as swimming, playing an instrument, or youth organisations for their children.

This compares with 5.2pc of households with one person in employment and 0.6pc of households with two workers.

Social Justice Ireland’s Director, Dr Seán Healy, said that the level of deprivation revealed in the CSO study was “the position before the current surge in the cost of living. The current situation is, obviously, worse.”

The think tank criticised the Budget for “abandoning the poor” and said the new CSO figures back up their proposal to increase core social welfare rates by €20 a week.

“We call on Government to revisit its decisions in these areas and to make the necessary adjustments in the forthcoming Social Welfare Bill to ensure the most vulnerable are prioritised,” it said.

The €12 interest in core welfare payments unveiled as part of the 2021 Budget will apply to almost all social welfare recipients, including pensioners and those on disability allowance.

Meanwhile those who are receiving social welfare, the PUP and a pension are also in line for two double payments, with the first one, the Halloween Bonus, to be paid out to all core welfare recipients in the coming weeks.

This will be followed by another double payment for the Christmas Bonus in December.

The combined cost of these double payments alone runs to almost €600million.

The massive €2 billion budget package of social welfare increases was signed off by Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys and the Department of Public Expenditure last week.

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