Northern Ireland Anti-Poverty Network (NIAPN), a member of the End Child Poverty Coalition, is gravely concerned about the high percentage of children who are living in poverty in Northern Ireland and across the UK.
- 22.2% of children in Northern Ireland are experiencing poverty, with rates as high as 28.5%, 27.6% and 26.3% in Belfast West, Belfast North, and Newry and Armagh constituencies respectively.
- 62.7% of children in Northern Ireland who experience poverty live in households with at least one adult in work.
- 37% of children in lone parent households in Northern Ireland experience poverty after housing costs.
The End Child Poverty Coalition UK commissioned Loughborough University to analyze government statistics to create a picture of numbers of children living in poverty after housing costs in each local authority and constituency.
A NIAPN spokesperson said: “We welcome this important data on child poverty rates by constituency and local authority launched by the End Child Poverty Coalition. The numbers of children in poverty across the UK is a massive indicator of a punitive and unjust social security system and wages that remain too low to pull the working poor out of poverty. We hope that MPs, MLAs and local councilors use this data to guide their anti-poverty policies and commit to a long overdue NI Anti-Poverty Strategy.
Child poverty in Northern Ireland has seen a slight reduction in 2021/22 and has been kept at bay in comparison to the shocking figures from other parts of the UK. This is in no small part due to the welfare mitigations implemented here. However, there is nothing to say that this will be a long term trend, as the two-child policy dis-proportionally impacts children in NI, as there are more households with children and more children in those households here in comparison to the rest of the UK.
Additionally, the massive increase of private rents over the past few years, whilst the local housing allowance remains frozen will push more children into poverty. Particularly because the majority of lone parents rent in the private sector here in NI.
We are facing a perfect storm of the cost-of-living crisis, high inflation, low wages, no childcare strategy, the 2-child policy, massive cuts to public spending, along with a lack of devolved government.
“We have parents who are coming to us who can’t afford to eat. They aren’t eating to make sure their children can eat. During the winter we have parents who cannot afford to heat their homes. We ran a free winter coat scheme and we actually had parents coming in to get coats to go sit in the cold in their homes because they couldn’t afford to heat the house. By the time people come to us, they have been experiencing this for some time. Because there is so much stigma.
It is important to point out that, as the research points out, these are working families. A lot of the lone parents we work with are out working and they still cant make ends meet. They are just in constant survival mode.”Amie Gallagher, project coordinator of the Focus Project in Derry
NIAPN calls for all Northern Ireland’s 18 MPs to join the All Kids Count campaign and commit to scrapping the 2-child policy, which is the most cost-effective way of reducing child poverty. It would lift 250,000 children out of poverty across the UK, and a further 850,000 children would be in less deep poverty at a cost of just £1.3 billion.
NIAPN is also a member of the Cliff Edge Coalition which also calls for the Department for Communities to mitigate against the 2-child policy, which would lift at least 6,000 children in Northern Ireland out of poverty.
Click here for the research.