The range of measures within Budget 2024 will help to alleviate the immediate financial concerns of families we work with across Ireland. They will go some way in the short term to reduce their worries about being able to provide their children with basic essentials.
We particularly welcome the expansion of free schoolbooks to secondary school students up to the end of the junior cycle, extension of child benefit to 18 year olds still in full time education, the increased reduction in childcare fees, increased threshold to the working family payment, the €450 energy credit and the once off payments, in particular the €400 Working Family Payment lump sum and €100 Qualified Child Increment lump sum.
However, as parents have told us, while once off payments are helpful they don’t provide continued stability and leaves them back in the same position, once that money is spent.
In the medium and longer term the measures today could have gone further to reduce child poverty rates and improve the childhoods of many children across the country. The targeted supports while welcome, were relatively limited, in particular for lone parents. The failure to match social welfare increases to inflation will mean more families could struggle next year as inflation continues and finances don’t stretch as far.
Suzanne Connolly, Barnardos CEO said: “We welcome the measures introduced in Budget 2024 to help protect families in the immediate term. They will go some way to reducing financial struggles families face and reduce some anxieties about providing children with basic essentials.
More could have been done to look to the future, be more aspirational for children, particularly given the establishment of the child poverty and wellbeing programme and because childhood lasts a lifetime.
We call on the child poverty and wellbeing programme to continue to work cross departmentally to develop a plan to address medium and long term measures that will impact child poverty.”
Further details: Sarah Williams, Communications Manager, [email protected] 086 8433702