The Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVP) welcomes the strong reassurances by Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe, that no family will be punished by having child benefit withheld on account of school attendance.
SVP echoes the concerns of the Children’s Rights Alliance who identified a proposal in the Programme for Government, which appear to link child benefit payments to school attendance, with families being punished by the withdrawal of child benefit if a child or children are unable to attend school.
"Withdrawing vital Child Benefit from families struggling to keep their children in school will not tackle child poverty, a commitment in the Programme for Government. Instead it would increase deprivation and further compound the troubles facing families." said John-Mark McCafferty, SVP Head of Social Justice and Policy
"Rather than seeking to punish parents SVP believes tackling child poverty requires strengthening and supporting low income families through investing in public services and income supports which facilitate parents to move into quality employment opportunities.
"Like the Minister, SVP wants to see all children finish their education – but this is dependent on many things – not least the provision of quality, affordable early childhood education and care for all pre-school children, investment in wider public services which lower income families rightly depend on, and the removal of barriers to education including book costs, registration fees and other school related charges." he said.
Ensuring that children are in school, well fed, clothed and happy is the ‘Silver bullet’ of social policy, according to Louise Casey, a UK expert on working with families, who spoke at an SVP event last week.