11,000 children plunged into poverty in Northern Ireland, warns charity
A leading charity has warned more than 11,000 children in Northern Ireland are at risk as the government moves forward with a Â£ 20-a-week cut in universal credit payments.
ave the Children said more than 83,000 children will be affected by the reduction that takes effect from today (Wednesday), and many of them will be plunged into poverty.
By early November, more than 44,000 Northern Ireland households with universal credit will see their payments reduced by Â£ 87 per month or Â£ 1,040 per year.
Government statistics show that in Northern Ireland more than 22,000 families, or half of the families affected (51%), have children under the age of five, while three in four (75%) are single-parent families. .
With one in four children (23%) already living in poverty in Northern Ireland, the head of the Northern Ireland charity, Peter Bryson, warns that the reduction will lead to an increase in poverty.
âThe UK government’s decision to go ahead with this reduction will devastate families in Northern Ireland. Over the next month, 44,000 families – or 83,000 children – will be affected and 11,000 children plunged into poverty, âhe said.
âThe people we work with tell us that they are relying on this Â£ 20 lifeline to buy essentials like food and clothing for themselves and their children. Without it, tens of thousands more children face a cold and hungry winter. And we know that the impacts of child poverty can last a lifetime.
âIt is astonishing that British government ministers have chosen to inflict the biggest Social Security cut in memory as families grapple with a cost of living crisis; Inflation, rising energy prices, fuel shortages and tax hikes are straining family finances.
Mr Bryson said for many it will be a major disaster of falling revenues and rising costs.
âThe UK government has a duty to protect families from hardship and not make it worse,â he added.
âThere has to be a change of course. In his budget announcement later this month, the Chancellor is expected to reinstate the Â£ 20 lifeline. Children will be immediately affected by this change as well as throughout their childhood and beyond. “
Rebecca (last name withheld) is a working single mother and Universal Credit activist who fears the cut will mean she will have trouble feeding her seven-year-old daughter.
âI’m already feeling the pinch and the cut hasn’t even happened yet,â she said.
âWinter is already a very difficult time. We have winter clothes to consider. Energy bills are going up and I can’t have a frozen child. We will therefore have to reduce our diet. We will have to use food banks and have less heat. “
She said the cut will have a devastating impact.
âIt puts pressure on my daughter because she knows we are poor,â she said. âIt’s horrible, a kid shouldn’t worry about money. It’s a few cents. What can I afford with a few pounds this week? This is what we are talking about.
âWhat Â£ 20 means for families like mine is to be able to afford healthy and appropriate food, not just cheap processed foods. This means having the heater on for two hours a day so it doesn’t freeze. This cut will be devastating for families like ours. “
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