Budget 2021

Barnardos welcomes much needed funding to support vulnerable children but flags that investment must reach those who need it

Posted on Tuesday 13 October 2020 in Press Releases

Dublin, 13th October 2020: Budget 2021 has seen some welcome investment in protecting the most vulnerable children and families, notably an increase of €61 million in funding for Tusla. Barnardos welcomes other measures including increases to the Qualified Child Increase (QCI); investment in education for children with special educational needs through the expansion of the Social Inclusion Programme; and changes to the Working Family Payment and One Parent Family Payment. Barnardos is disappointed that there has been no expansion of the roll-out of the free books scheme; and that there is no mention of additional family support services for children living in direct provision or homeless accommodation.

Suzanne Connolly, Barnardos CEO said: “We very much welcome the increase of €61 million in funding for Tusla in Budget 2021. Successive years’ underinvestment has resulted in a large deficit which needs to be filled. This has resulted in the primary focus being on crisis management rather than on much needed prevention and early intervention services. Worryingly this level of underfunding has severely impacted frontline, community based services for children and families.”

“It is crucial the additional funding at Tusla’s disposal filters down to the Community and Voluntary organisations providing frontline services. Chronic funding shortfalls are failing vulnerable children and families and this must be rectified. Similarly, Barnardos would like to see some of this additional funding going towards prevention and early intervention supports, such as community based family support and parenting programmes promised in the Programme for Government.   

“While there wasn’t any increase to core social welfare rates, we welcome the increase in the Qualified Child Increase (QCI) paid to families with children. Barnardos would have preferred a larger increase, particularly for children over 12 in acknowledgement of the additional cost of raising older children. This extra cost of feeding and clothing teenagers was brought sharply into focus during school closures earlier this year and it remains to be seen if the increase to QCI will be sufficient for struggling families. We would have liked to have seen a correlating increase in weekly allowance payments to children and young people living in direct provision. Other changes to the Working Family Payment and One Parent Family Payment are welcome.

“In education it is welcome to see investment in children with special educational needs- particularly expansion of the Social Inclusion Programme. However, intervention in the community must not be forgotten as many children require support – for example with speech and language- long before they reach a junior infant classroom. We are disappointed the Government has not seized the momentum of the roll out of free school books to 102 DEIS schools in 2020 by expanding that scheme in Budget 2021.” 

Suzanne Connolly concluded: “Budget 2021 focuses on investing in the resilience of the Irish people and the economy; children and young people have demonstrated incredible resilience in this pandemic and continue to do so. Investment in the services children need has never been more important than it is during this pandemic – particularly for the vulnerable children Barnardos works with who are living with parental mental health challenges, domestic violence and parental addiction. Budget 2021 contains some key investments for children, but it remains to be seen if they will be sufficient to help children through this pandemic. What is clear to Barnardos, based on our experience helping children and families, is that significant investment in children must continue throughout the lifetime of this Government."