Child poverty almost doubled in the austerity years. In 2008, just before the crash, 6.8 per cent of Irish children were living in consistent poverty – a shameful figure in itself. By 2013, that proportion had almost doubled to 11.7 per cent.
That’s 138,000 children – pretty much an entire Galway city plus an entire Limerick city of consistently poor kids. Obviously, much of this increase was driven by the wider economic collapse, and especially by unemployment. But direct Government decisions have knowingly made things worse.
To take just one of the most egregious examples, the Back to School allowance for clothes and shoes was savaged. This is a very small payment, with a negligible effect on the public finances. (It’s €45 million from a welfare budget of almost €20 billion.) But it matters a lot to struggling families and especially to the children in those families who are trying to look like normal kids in normal schools.
It’s a very small payment but it is EVERYTHING, when you’re a kid who already feels different. It’s everything when you’re feeling at a disadvantage already, and like everyone is looking at you even if they’re not, and NEWS FLASH THIS IS HOW EVERY KID FEELS.
So naturally we need to kill it to make a point, which is that poor people should feel worse about being poor.