Commenting on the report, NI Commissioner for Children & Young People, Koulla Yiasouma said:
“We know that welfare reform is continuing to have a devastating impact on families in Northern Ireland where 110,000 children are living in poverty. Our everyday work supports research that says those hardest hit by the changes in social security are families with dependent children and those with health problems and disabilities.
“Mr Donnelly’s report highlighted that more than 60% of money set aside by Stormont to soften the impact of welfare changes for claimants has not been spent. Without political decision makers these measures will end in March of next year which will only result with more families experiencing serious hardship.
“This is totally unacceptable. Children growing up in poverty do not do as well at school, experience many more health problems, have a greater chance of falling into the criminal justice system and have lower levels of life expectancy
“These are very real but avoidable problems and while I welcome a streamlined social security system that encourages people into work, other barriers remain including access to good quality, affordable childcare.
“We urgently need a Child Care Strategy in Northern Ireland and support NIAO’s call for better working across departments and for local strategies to respond effectively to those households who face a disproportionate impact of welfare reform.
“It is predicted that there could be as much as a 10% increase in child poverty across the UK in the next 2 years, a situation that our social security system has been designed to prevent but today’s report is further evidence of a system still very much broken.”
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