Child poverty

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National Action Plan for Social Inclusion, Poverty Impact Assessments

Seanad appeal on children hungry

The Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, told Micheal Martin (FF, Cork SC) that her department had recently concluded the third annual report on social inclusion (Dail Eireann, Debates, 24th April 2012, 608).  This would outline progress over the period January 2009 to December 2010.  It was being prepared for publication and would be publicly available as soon as possible.  She told him that the government had undertaken a comprehensive review of the national poverty target to make sure that it was appropriate and achievable and she expected the review to be finalized shortly; and the government had recently published a policy on labour market activation, Pathways to work.


Asked by Stephen Donnelly (ind, Wicklow) about poverty impact assessments in general and the Social welfare Bill in particular, the Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, told the Dail that her department undertook both Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) and Poverty Impact Assessments (PIAs) in accordance with  guidelines issued by the Social Inclusion Division.  An RIA had been carried out and published of amendments to the Social welfare Bill, 2012, but other measures therein arose from the 2012 budget and RIAs were not ordinarily undertaken of the budget.  A PIA of the social welfare measures in the Social welfare Bill would, ‘in isolation, be out of balance’ (Dail Eireann, Debates, 24th April 2012, 598).  She added that her department was preparing an analysis of the distributive and poverty impact on families of the 2012 budget and social welfare package: this was being finalized and would be considered by the cabinet committee on social policy, after which she would arrange for it be be published.  


Meantime, in the Seanad, Mark Daly (FF, admin) asked for a debate on a report from the National University of Ireland Galway that 21% of children in the country were going to school or bed each day hungry (Seanad Eireann, Debates, 19th April 20123, 814).  344,000 children were not getting enough to eat, a shocking statistic, but  one which attracted little interest from the media.  He contrasted the way in which Irish Aid had reduced hunger from one child in six in Malawi to one in ten and although there might be different levels of hunger, he did not think he could explain that to a child here.  Surely we could have a school meals scheme, as was done in other countries, with simple solutions such as breakfast clubs or dinner clubs ‘but at least we should not allow children to go hungry?’.

> Government policies against poverty, explanation of measurements of poverty: Dail Eireann, Debates, 25th April 2012, 173-5. 

> Government policy to address child poverty: Dail Eireann, Debates, 18th April 2012, 817.