Budget 2021 not an ambitious budget for young people but includes essential investment in Tusla and youth services

The Children’s Rights Alliance reacts to Budget 2021 announced today (13.10.20) by Minister Paschal Donohoe and Minister Michael McGrath. In a pre-Budget submission, the Children’s Rights Alliance called on Government to focus on four priority areas to ensure that the children most affected by Covid19 and vulnerable families further disadvantaged by the pandemic receive the urgent support they need.

“This public health pandemic has forced Government to make some extraordinary decisions economically and legally over the past few months. We must now look to the future and the critical investments that need to be made to ensure that the people of this country are protected as we head to very uncertain times living alongside Covid-19,” said Tanya Ward Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance.

“We believe that every child should have every opportunity to reach their full potential. One of the most devastating impacts of this pandemic has meant that for many children and young people, opportunities to do so have come to a screeching halt. Not only that, but we know that children and young people have been significantly impacted by this pandemic and the effect it has had on their mental health and wellbeing. It has thrown new challenges at families and multiplied issues for those already disadvantaged,” continued Tanya Ward.

“We commend the work of new Minister for Children, Disability, Equality, Integration and Youth in securing essential investment in Tusla- the Child and Family Agency. A failure to invest in Tusla at this crucial time would have put children and young people at risk. Some families are at breaking point and a failure to invest in frontline services now could mean that children would not be guaranteed a service. The past few months have also highlighted some very serious concerns for vulnerable children including a rise in domestic violence and increased reports of child abuse. The additional €61 million announced today will help respond to an inevitable demand-surge and importantly, will ensure that child protection concerns do not go unanswered,” said Tanya Ward. “The services Tusla provides are as diverse as the families that access them. This investment will not only address a deficit in residential care but keep other support streams running including the family support programme, the education support service and the relocation programme and reduce the number of children waiting for a social worker. It will help provide wraparound services for the most vulnerable in our society.”

On how the Budget will address child poverty, Tanya Ward commented, “With health spending overshadowing a lot of other areas in this Budget, the Alliance is relieved to see some of our asks on child poverty reflected in the plan. The additional €5.5 million investment in the hot school meals programme is a sigh of relief for the Alliance and our members who have seen an overwhelming rise in the amount of families who struggled to put food on the table over the past few months. The investment will mean a hot school meal for up to 35,000 more children in the coming year. We are heading into a winter with more than 200,000 families at risk of falling below the breadline as a result of this pandemic. An investment like this will be a lifeline for so many.

We are also pleased to see an increase in the Qualified Child Allowance by €5 for children over 12 and €2 for children under 12. For families struggling to make ends meet, costs like food, clothing, education, and social activities can bring immeasurable pressure every week. While this is a step in the right direction, families will need more support to keep their heads above water,” continued Tanya Ward.