3 Feb 2010

Commissioner urges Government to invest to help families

NORTHERN Ireland Commissioner, Patricia Lewsley, will today tell an Assembly Committee that concerted action can reduce child poverty and its impact.

The Commissioner was addressing the Committee of the First Minister and deputy First Minister, as it considered progress on recommendations from its inquiry into child poverty.

"Each day I hear from families about how poverty is affecting their lives and making them ever more marginalised," she said. "A clear path was established by the Committee, but I fear that there has been a lot of talking and very little action.

"This month as part of my ongoing 'Make It Right' campaign young people have been working with me on the theme of child poverty."

Ms Lewsley said that there were several actions Government could take as part of the forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review.

"Providing better childcare, investing money in early years and in services for children with disabilities would be a positive start."

The Commissioner said that while there had been a start in some areas, the Northern Ireland Executive departments need to work together to help families escape from poverty.

"While I recognise the work being undertaken by the Ministerial Sub-Group on Children there needs to be an overall requirement for agencies to co-operate in planning children's services.

"I also encourage Government to take urgent action to increase the uptake of benefits for families in need now.

"There is a chance in coming months to make a real difference to reduce child poverty through concerted action."