Children’s charity Barnardos has said today’s budget announcements fall short of what’s needed by the country’s poorest families.
Budget 2019 made a number of commitments to families, including a new two weeks of parental leave – but this won’t come into effect until November 2019.
The measure is good news for the families of newborns, said Barnardos’ Head Of Advocacy June Tinsley, but means “that more than three years into the Partnership Government it has achieved a tiny fraction of the 24 weeks it promised.”
She welcomed the increase of €25 in the Back-To-School payment and the rise in qualified child increase by €2.20 per week for children up to age 12 and by €5.20 a week for children over 12.
She also gave a cautious welcome to changes to the Affordable Childcare Scheme and said that gains must be linked with quality care.
The base income threshold for the scheme is set rise from €22,700 to €26,000 and multiple child deduction will increase from €3,800 to €4,300.
Though Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe announced that more social houses will be built next year than any year over the past decade, Ms Tinsley said that this doesn’t go far enough for homeless families.
She called for a six-month limit on families living in emergency accommodation.
“Disappointingly, the government’s continued reliance on the private rented sector to increase supply of homes remains and offers little comfort to those 3,700 children currently experiencing homelessness,” she said.
“Worryingly the extra funding for HAP tenancies doesn’t take into account that many HAP recipients find it impossible to find homes to rent within the HAP limits.
“Any investment in improving emergency accommodation standards is welcome; however family hubs, hotels and B&Bs are not a home. The government should back up its investment with a commitment to a six month limit on emergency accommodation for children.
“The €1.25 billion investment announced for social housing must be backed up by more action than we’ve seen to date.”