Continued lack of improvement in child poverty rates is a national scandal that requires urgent intervention

01 Feb 2017 in Press Releases, Advocacy, Featured

It is distressing that child poverty rates have again not improved as one child in nine remain living in consistent poverty in Ireland, said Barnardos today. Today’s EU Survey on Income and Living (SILC) figures for 2015, released by the CSO, reveal the number of children living in consistent poverty has not changed significantly since similar figures were released last year despite unemployment rates reducing and a more buoyant economy.

Childhood is short, yet the experiences we have shape the adults we become and the lives we lead. Children living in poverty live life on the margins, excluded from opportunities and often unable to break the cycle of poverty. Poverty affects every aspect of a child’s life and has short and long term consequences on their development, health, education outcomes and life chances. Worryingly, children in lone parent households continue to experience poverty and deprivation at a far greater rate than children in two parent households.

Fergus Finlay, CEO, Barnardos, said, “Again we see that one in nine children live in consistent poverty in Ireland and almost a third of children experience deprivation, while the number of children at risk of poverty has not improved since 2010. This is not acceptable.

“When you think about what these figures mean, it is scandalous. It means that two children in every classroom are living without access to basic necessities through no fault of their own. They are going without good shoes, or warm jackets to keep the cold out. They’re often going without nutritious meals, and they’re living in substandard housing often without heat.”  

“We can’t stand idly by and just accept these levels of deprivation as normal and tolerable. We know enough about this by now to realise that if we don’t break this vicious cycle, its effects will last for generations. These children deserve better chances. These are the children who may well be the early school leavers, the ones who will live a life of dependency and alienation. This deprivation will have long term effects on every aspect of their lives”.

June Tinsley, Head of Advocacy, Barnardos said, “These figures highlight an alarming and consistent rate of child poverty, and it is frustrating that more is not being done to improve the lives of these children. Barnardos sees daily the effects this level of poverty has on children and can see their potential disappearing before they’ve had a chance to thrive or shine. These figures show that deprivation rates for children are in all cases higher than the overall figures. Simply put, children are facing higher levels of poverty than adults. This is a horrifying trend. And it will have long term repercussions, for these children and for society as a whole”.

 “We need to start seeing the children behind these figures, and we need policy makers to urgently intervene. This level of deprivation is not inevitable – it is the direct result of the choices being made by those in power.”



Useful information

Key statistics:

Some top line statistics from EU SILC 2015

  • In 2015, 11.5% of children (aged 0-17) lived in consistent poverty. Based on the 2011 census (the latest figure currently available for this age group) that equates to approximately 132,000 children. This is one in nine children – equivalent to the entire population of a county like Wicklow, or Mayo. There was no statistically significant change since 2014. 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.
  • Nearly three in five (58%) of lone parent households with one or more children experienced deprivation. Worryingly this is more than double the level of deprivation experienced by families with two adults with children (25.2%).
  • In 2015 the annual average disposable income had increased from €18,864 in 2014 to €20,000. The concern is that lower income families are still struggling while it is the middle and high income earners are enjoying the recovery.
  • Those who are unemployed in 2015 face significantly higher risks of experiencing deprivation (45.5%) and consistent poverty (26.2%), and being at risk of poverty (43.5%), compared with the rest of the population.


Consistent Poverty for children under 18 years






(8.5% overall population)


(9.1% overall population)


(8.8% overall population)


(8.7% overall population)


(1 in 10 children)


( 1 in 8 children)


(1 in 9 children)


(1 in 9 children)


Read more