Budget Must Protect Children Says Barnardos
Barnardos has launched its Supplementary Budget Submission ahead of the Government's Budget which is due to be announced on 7 April. While recognising the severity of the economic situation facing the country, Barnardos continues to call for the protection of the State's most vulnerable children and families.
Fergus Finlay, Barnardos' CEO, said: "Over 76,000 children continue to live in consistent poverty in our society, a figure that's likely to increase over the coming year. It is unacceptable that these children should pay for the economic downturn when they benefited so little from the ‘Celtic Tiger'."
"Children and families already living in poverty or struggling on low incomes should not face further pressures as a result of increased taxes and cutbacks in vital supports and services." Barnardos recommends ensuring that any tax increases predominantly target higher incomes, avoiding taxation of Child Benefit or if taxed the savings generated should be directed into the Qualified Child Allowance, Any savings made from cuts to the Early Childcare Supplement should be ringfenced for the creation of a comprehensive quality half day pre-school place for every child the year prior to joining primary school.
Mr. Finlay noted: "It is not just about increasing taxes and slashing costs but also looking at how we spend what we have and where our priorities as a society lie. Over the last ten years we have made some progress but still failed to put adequate resources into supports and services that would make a real difference to children living in poverty. We now need to look at efficient spending in the areas that need it most and that will reap the greatest long-term rewards."
Speaking about the ongoing Budget cuts in the Department of Education, Mr. Finlay said: "Education is a right, not a privilege. It is unacceptable that the supports which help vulnerable children stay in school and get an education are being whittled away. Targeting education is a short-term solution with very serious long-term repercussions for both children and Ireland."