Strong focus on childcare in Budget 2017, but ending child poverty needs greater investment
Solid investment in sustainable childcare and some new housing solutions are welcome, but not enough to demonstrate the Government is truly committed to ending child poverty. Piecemeal popularist measures suggest the Government is trying too hard to please too many instead of showing strong leadership and making wise, long-term investments dedicated to support all children to achieve their potential.
- Investment to deliver high quality, affordable childcare to all families regardless of income is a crucial development. A subsidised system is fairer for everyone and a welcome step towards a more sustained approach in this area so Ireland can achieve the OECD average annual investment of 0.8% GDP.
- Almost 1,000 more children are homeless compared with this time last year and unless urgent action follows investment, the ongoing housing crisis is in danger of becoming an indelible stain on this Government’s legacy.
- The allocation of education investment beyond reducing teacher-student ratios is unclear. Barnardos continues to demand a level playing field for all children and would like to see €103m dedicated to introduce free primary education to Ireland.
June Tinsley, Barnardos Head of Advocacy, said, “An investment of €35m to deliver subsidised childcare for all families, with a targeted approach ensuring low income families will benefit most is to be welcomed as a good starting point. Access to high quality, affordable childcare is proven to reduce child poverty.
“Implementation of the Department of Housing’s Housing Action Plan is urgently needed. There are almost 1,000 more children homeless compared with this time last year: we cannot be in a position this time next year with another such increase.
“Extra money to deliver the Housing Assistance Payment is a potential benefit, but can only be effective if sufficient housing is there to meet demand and landlords to avail of the scheme. Because it is reliant on the availability of private rented accommodation there is a very real danger it will not have a significant impact on the housing crisis.”
Ms Tinsley concluded, “Overall Barnardos is concerned the top line announcements in today’s Budget 2017 reveal the Government is too committed to winning a short term popularity contest than delivering long-term, sustainable solutions to build a Fairer Ireland for all.”