Belfast Telegraph

Quarter of our kids living in poverty, says survey

By Claire Williamson

New statistics revealing that around a quarter of children in Northern Ireland are living in poverty are shocking, the Children's Commissioner has said.

More than 100,000 youngsters here are affected - and the number is on the rise.

New figures from the Northern Ireland Poverty Bulletin show 25% of local kids were living in poverty in the year 2014/15.

This in an increase of two per cent compared to the previous year.

Koulla Yiasouma, Commissioner for Children and Young People, said the statistics should act as a significant "wake-up call" to Stormont.

"I find this shocking and unacceptable that there are so many children whose lives are blighted by poverty on a day and daily basis," she said.

"It is simply not acceptable that more than one in four children is living in poverty in Northern Ireland. This means that 122,000 children are living in households where their parents are struggling to provide basic necessities for their children.

"The Executive must do all in their power to end child poverty."

The report by the Department for Communities determines that an individual is considered to be in relative poverty if they are living in a household with an income below 60% of UK median income in the year in question.

It also revealed that the average household income was £420 a week, or £21,900 per year - which is a three per cent increase on the previous year.

Of working-age adults, 226,400 were in poverty, which is an increase from 20% to 21% on the previous year.

Meanwhile, 22% of individuals were in poverty in 2014/15, which is approximately 395,100 people.

The number of pensioners living in poverty has decreased.

A total of 59,200 (20%) were in poverty in 2014/15, which is a drop from 21% in the previous year.

Commenting on the figures, Peter Bryson from Save the Children said it was unacceptable that more than a quarter of young children in Northern Ireland are growing up in poverty.

"We know that children under five are more likely to live in poverty than their older peers. The legacy for these children starts in the early years and will be lifelong," he said.

"Every child deserves the best start in life. But in Northern Ireland too many young children are going without the support they need to reach their potential.

"They're falling behind before they even get to school and that puts their life chances at risk.

"The Executive must focus on early investment in children's futures, by offering better support to parents and ensuring all early years staff have what they need to deliver world-class services for children."

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