Benefits rethink urged as 24% of NI children ‘living in poverty’
Almost one in four children lives in poverty in Northern Ireland, a new report has revealed.
The End Child Poverty Coalition's research claimed that 24% of children in the country are from poor households - where income is less than 60% of the average after housing costs.
The estimates found the constituencies of Foyle, West Belfast and North Belfast to have the highest levels, with more than one in three children growing up in poverty (34%).
The child poverty level was lowest in South Antrim and the Lagan Valley - at 18% and 17% respectively. The coalition is now calling on the Government to use its upcoming Autumn Statement to end the freeze on children's benefits, and to reverse cuts being introduced to in-work benefits under Universal Credit.
End Child Poverty spokesman Peter Bryson said: "This shocking map of poverty across Northern Ireland demonstrates just how widely and deeply child poverty reaches into our communities.
"In each and every constituency in Northern Ireland, there are children being denied the happy childhoods and the good start in life other children take for granted.
"Our children are now twice as likely to be poor as our pensioners. We urge the Executive to protect the poorest children from the effect of cuts to household income and support all local areas to end child poverty once and for all. The Executive should prioritise tackling child poverty across all departments to allow the poorest children to have the best start in life, as promised by the Programme for Government."
Pauline Leeson, chief executive of Children in Northern Ireland, the umbrella organisation of the children's sector, said: "The overwhelming message from the child poverty figures is a plea to the Northern Ireland Executive to use the actions contained in the Programme for Government to bring an end to child poverty, to give each child the best possible start in life."