Following the recent report by the United Nations into austerity measures across the UK, two Workers Party representatives have drawn attention to the appalling levels of child poverty and social deprivation in North and West Belfast.
“These two areas have some of the highest levels of child poverty in Northern Ireland”, Joanne Lowry and Chris Bailie have said
“Almost 20,000 local children live in homes haunted by poverty. That means families with increasing debts, choices between ‘heat or eat ’, teenagers with a limited or non-existent social life and an increased risk of chronic illness. Children living in poverty also consistently under-perform at school and find it harder to get a job when they leave”, they said
Highest levels The highest levels of poverty are to be found in the Collin Glen and Falls areas in West Belfast and Ardyone, New Lodge and Cliftonville in North Belfast
Research by Save the Children has shown that around 20% of parents in poverty say their children have to go without new shoes when they need them and a large number of children in poverty say they are missing out on things that many other children take for granted, such as going on school trips and having a warm coat in winter.
“The introduction of Universal Credit, cuts to health and education budgets, pressures on community, voluntary and youth services all compound the problems already affecting thousands of local families – many of them with a least one partner working”, Chris and Joanne said
“It is unforgivable that while in Government Sinn Fein and the DUP refused to implement the promised Anti-Poverty Strategy and sent powers relating to Universal Credit to Westminster. As a result thousands of local children and their families continue to suffer a hardship and deprivation that will haunt them for the rest of their lives”.
“If there is a more important political priority than addressing child poverty, then perhaps some local MLAs would like to tell us about it”, the duo concluded.