Child Poverty Rates Remain Stubbornly High

19 Dec 2017 in Press Releases, Advocacy, Featured

It is distressing that child poverty rates have not significantly improved as one in nine children in Ireland continue to live in consistent poverty, said Barnardos today. Today’s EU Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) figures for 2016 reveal the number of children living in consistent poverty has not changed significantly since similar figures were released last year despite continued growth in the economy, rise in the average level of income and a decrease in the level of unemployment.

Barnardos Head of Advocacy June Tinsley said: “Yet again we see shockingly little progress on tackling child poverty in Ireland. In one of the wealthiest countries in the world it is a stain on our prosperity that almost 139,000 children are living in consistent poverty. The Government have made the commitment to lift 100,000 children out of poverty by 2020, however we’re two years away from that target and numbers have failed to shift significantly.

“Poverty affects every aspect of a child’s life, their health, their wellbeing, their education and their future. Poverty cannot be viewed in isolation - families and children stuck in a poverty trap are more likely to be victims of the homelessness crisis as they cannot afford rapidly rising rents – it is notable that in 2016 those living in rented accommodation are significantly more likely to be living in consistent poverty than those living in homes that they own. Children living in poverty are more likely to experience the delays in public health services as their parents cannot afford to pay for private assessments or treatments. If we don’t break this vicious cycle, its effects will last for generations.

“Particularly worrying is the ongoing fact that lone-parent families experience a dramatically higher rate of poverty and deprivation than two-parent households. Half of one parent families are living in deprivation – this means they may not be able to keep their house sufficiently warm, they cannot replace worn-out furniture; they are going without good shoes or warm water-proof jackets.

“This is not inevitable. It is a result of poor decision-making by policymakers who favoured tax cuts over investments in key public services. If the Government is serious in meeting its own commitment, strong political will is required to challenge the status quo and make the conscious decision that investing in breaking the cycles of poverty will be a worthwhile investment for both children’s lives and the exchequer into the future.”

Key Statistics:


  • Those living in households with one adult and one or more children aged under 18 had the highest deprivation rate in 2016 at 50.1%. This is almost three times higher than two parent households.
  • The most common types of deprivation experienced were an inability to replace worn out furniture (21.1%), afford a morning/afternoon/evening out (15.5%) and have family/friends over for a meal/drink (13.9%).
  • Under half of those living in consistent poverty (48.1%) reported going without heating at some stage in the last 12 months.
  • Further analysis of consistent poverty rates by household composition shows that individuals living in households where there was one adult and one or more children aged under 18 had the highest consistent poverty rate at 24.6%.
  • Consistent poverty means that these children are living in households with incomes below 60% of the national median income and experiencing deprivation based on the agreed 11 deprivation indicators. This can mean going 24 hours without a substantial meal or being cold because parents are unable to afford to heat the home. It means not having two strong pairs of shoes, or a warm jacket to keep out the cold.
  • In 2016 nominal median equivalised disposable income was €20,597 and the nominal ‘at risk of poverty’ threshold stood at €12,358 i.e. 60% of the median. In 2016, 16.5% of individuals had an equivalised disposable income below this threshold. 

Consistent Poverty for children under 18 years







EU SILC (0-17 years)


(8.5% overall population)


(9.1% overall population)


(8.8% overall population)


(8.7% overall population)



No. of children in poverty


(1 in 10 children)


( 1 in 8 children)


(1 in 9 children)


(1 in 9 children)


(1 in 9 children)