With less than a week left to Budget 2018, the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) has called on the Government to focus on the needs of the 139,000 children living in consistent poverty, and the 3,048 children who are currently homeless.
Tackling this level of deprivation must be the priority for Budget 2018, says the Society.
“Much more needs to be done for one-parent families who are 3.5 times more likely to be poor than two parent families and are the largest group assisted by SVP” said Tricia Keilthy, SVP Social Justice spokesperson.
“SVP members see at first-hand how parenting alone on a low income has been made more difficult due to the reforms to the One Parent Family Payment. While we welcome the recent commitment to addressing poverty amongst one parent families by the Minister for Employment and Social Protection, we are asking that in-work income supports for one parent families are improved in the upcoming Budget, and that additional supports are provided to help lone parents to take up education and training.” she said.
As children over the age of 12 are twice as likely to live in poverty than younger children, SVP is also recommending that social welfare payments are structured in a way that provides additional targeting for older children.
Access to education is a key way out of poverty and SVP says that instead of increasing the entry point for the 40% tax rate, which has been suggested, the Government could deliver SVP’s budget asks in relation to education.
“This would mean more children could access the book rental scheme, schools would be properly resourced so parents wouldn’t have to pay so-called ‘voluntary contributions’, and child benefit would be payable up until the end of school. It would also make further education and training more accessible by enhancing support through SUSI and the Back to Education Allowance."
“These measures would reduce the cost of living for all income groups with greater gains for low income households”, said Tricia Keilthy.
She said that the Government must also use Budget 2018 to increase capital funds to accelerate the building of social and affordable housing. HAP and Rent Supplement limits must also be reviewed to prevent more families becoming homeless.
“It is extremely worrying that the Government are considering taking revenue out of the exchequer at a time when there are significant deficits in our public services including education and childcare, and in the midst of a housing and homelessness crisis.”
“SVP volunteers across the country continue to provide support and assistance to families living in emergency accommodation, as well as hundreds of families at risk of becoming homeless. The latest national figures show that the crisis is deepening as family homelessness rises outside of Dublin. Direct and decisive action is urgently needed.”