29 May 2012

CHILDREN’S Commissioner, Patricia Lewsley-Mooney, today again warned that child poverty could increase under welfare reform proposals.

Ms Lewsley-Mooney, in welcoming the latest report from UNICEF on measuring child poverty, said that since she launched a recent report on the potential child rights impact the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has expressed reservations and UNICEF has now warned that freezing child benefit and child tax credit cuts may worsen child poverty.

“The report issued today by UNICEF further confirms that child poverty levels may worsen,” said the Commissioner.

“Overall the UK has missed its targets to reduce child poverty to 1.7 million children in 2010.

The situation in Northern Ireland may be worse considering the high numbers of children here and the large numbers of children within each family.

“The report noted that the levels of child poverty are predicted to rise considerably, and warned that government must begin to measure all aspects of poverty in a better way.

Reports which I have launched recently have shown that welfare reform will pull many more of our children into poverty. While various measures are tossed across debates and the airwaves we need action alongside a better understanding of what child poverty is, how it affects children and what are realistic steps that can be taken.

Ms Lewsley-Mooney continued: “Too many children in Northern Ireland already live in poverty and social security payments are crucial in keeping child poverty levels downI call on the Northern Ireland Executive to take concerted action to lift children from poverty in keeping with its commitments and statutory duty as laid down in the Child Poverty Act 2010. This must include the Minister for Social Development ensuring that Welfare Reform does not further disadvantage vulnerable or poor children.

 “Children and young people must be visible in the debate around welfare reform as they are particularly vulnerable to poverty and are unable themselves to influence their economic circumstances. We must act to protect them from the effects of poverty.”