17 Jun 2008

Children’s lives scarred by poverty 

NORTHERN Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, Patricia Lewsley, today called on the Northern Ireland Executive to rise to the challenge of ending child poverty.

Welcoming the publication of a child poverty inquiry from the Assembly Committee for the First Minister, deputy First Minister, Ms Lewsley said the report was a powerful reminder of the urgent need to tackle the misery that blights too many children’s lives.

“The scar of child poverty is that too many families end up living with too little and opportunities are severely limited for children and young people,” said the Commissioner.

“Today’s report from the Committee is a timely reminder to all Government Ministers that the forthcoming review of Programme for Government and the Budget should specifically include measures to tackle poverty.”

Ms Lewsley said the 47 recommendations in the Committee’s report highlight the urgent need for concerted action.

“Too many children live their lives deprived of opportunities, and living in conditions that are appalling.

“I have heard directly from children and young people about how this affects their lives, from awful living conditions to barriers to educational opportunities.

“That makes it particularly worrying that the committee is warning that mounting fuel costs and potential economic downturn may mean there could be a rise in child poverty in coming years.”

The Commissioner welcomed specific recommendations from the committee’s report including the creation of an independent expert panel to help bring forward the action from the Lifetime Opportunities Strategy.

“There is no easy answer for tackling child poverty,” said Ms Lewsley, “but the committee reports specific ways the Government can help, for example by providing more and better childcare options and targeting areas such as rural poverty.

“The time for action is now, and as a result of this report I want to see the Executive putting the elimination of child poverty at the heart of their work now and in the future.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors