Dáil Éireann - Volume 525 - 09 November, 2000
Written Answers. - Child Poverty.
Mr. McGinley Mr. McGinley
20. Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs the targets he will establish to eliminate child poverty; and the target he has for 2000, 2002, 2005 and 2010. [25034/00]
Mr. G. Mitchell Mr. G. Mitchell
67. Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs if he will make a statement on the report that poverty among children here is amongst the worst in the EU. [24478/00]
Mr. D. Ahern Mr. D. Ahern
Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern): I propose to take Questions Nos. 20 and 67 together.
I expect that the Deputy is referring to the National Economic and Social Forum opinion No. 8, which commented that a quarter of children live in households below half average income and that Irish children have the highest rate of income poverty in the EU. Based on 1997 figures, this places Ireland in a similar position to the UK and Portugal in relation to income poverty.
The most recent independent survey carried out by the Economic and Social Research Institute shows that the level of consistent poverty among children has dropped to 12% – a fall of almost 30% in the 12 month period from 1997 to 1998. Behind these statistics is an improvement in the quality of life for another 50,000 of our children. This accelerates the downward trend in child poverty figures with consistent poverty among children being halved from 24.8% in 1987 to 12% in 1998.
The massive drop in consistent child poverty is largely attributable to this Government's success in reducing unemployment to under 4% by creating work friendly policies and providing the supports unemployed people need to get into the job market and get their share of our success.
Measures such as the family income supplement have helped encourage parents back into the workforce, benefiting the individuals themselves and the families and communities in which they live.
Last year's budget provided substantial increases all round for those on social welfare but especially in child benefit, where approximately one quarter of last year's budget increases went into child benefit.
I look forward to fully meeting the commitment we gave in the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness by further increasing child benefit with a target of £100 per month for the third and subsequent children.
Child poverty has been identified as a central issue for consideration in the review of the national anti-poverty strategy provided for in the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness. As part  of the review, existing national anti-poverty strategy targets will be revised as appropriate and consideration will be given to possible new targets under the themes of child poverty, women's poverty, older people, health, and housing/ accommodation. Working groups are currently being established, with representation from the social partners, towards this end and the process is due to be completed by next summer.
Question No. 21 taken with Question No. 16.
Dáil Éireann 525 Written Answers. Child Poverty.