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Child poverty figures reveal 100,000 NI children classed as living in households with below-average income

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A new report from Save the Children has revealed that twice as many children living in poverty are growing up in working families than 10 years ago (35% vs 17%), suggesting that employment has not been a route out of hardship for many. Picture posed by model

A new report from Save the Children has revealed that twice as many children living in poverty are growing up in working families than 10 years ago (35% vs 17%), suggesting that employment has not been a route out of hardship for many. Picture posed by model

A new report from Save the Children has revealed that twice as many children living in poverty are growing up in working families than 10 years ago (35% vs 17%), suggesting that employment has not been a route out of hardship for many. Picture posed by model

There has been no reduction in the local rate of child poverty a decade on from the introduction of the first statutory strategy to deal with the problem.

A new report from Save the Children has revealed that twice as many children living in poverty are growing up in working families than 10 years ago (35% vs 17%), suggesting that employment has not been a route out of hardship for many.

The charity's Ten Years Too Long report highlighted the as-yet unknown impact the pandemic will have on poverty.

It is calling on the Executive to provide more support for struggling families.

Approximately 100,000 local children - about one in four (23%) - are currently classed as living in a household with a below-average income.

The latest data showed that the children of single parents, children with two or more siblings and children in a family where someone has a disability face a far higher risk of poverty, increasing to a rate of around one in three overall.

The report said the cost of living had skyrocketed during the pandemic, putting increased pressure on family finances.

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Additionally, many parents lost their jobs overnight, those on zero-hours contracts saw their work dry up and others were furloughed, leading to a drop in already stretched incomes.

Many turned to food banks or charities to get by, with the pandemic inflicting the heaviest toll on people who were already struggling to make ends meet.

The report also found that families with the youngest children were disproportionally affected, with the risk of poverty higher for youngsters under the age of five.

The charity highlighted that the poorest households had lost 10% of their incomes as a result of changes to taxes and benefits in the last decade, costing them on average about £1,200 per year, with an even higher figure for single parents at £2,250 per year.

Save the Children is calling on the Executive to strengthen the existing welfare mitigations package.

"It is deeply disheartening to see these stagnant figures," said Peter Bryson, head of the charity's Northern Ireland operation.

"Because these statistics give a measure of child poverty pre-pandemic, they don't even give us the full picture of the impact of Covid and potentially how much worse the situation will be for children in a year's time.

"The first child poverty strategy was launched 10 years ago, but little progress has been made.

"Too many families struggle financially, with far-reaching consequences for their children.

"History will judge how we handled this pandemic for our children.

"It has been an overwhelming and stressful time for families who were already struggling on low incomes. We cannot risk plunging even more families into poverty.

"These latest figures should be the catalyst that the Executive needs to make giving every child in Northern Ireland the best possible start a priority."


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