Child poverty figures could be even worse than claimed

CHILD POVERTY in Fermanagh could be worse than figures in a new report suggests.

A study by Loughborough University – which was commissioned by the End Child Poverty Coalition – shows that 22.2 per cent of children in Fermanagh are living below the poverty line.

Both Belfast and Newry, Mourne & Down council areas have the highest rate – 24.3 per cent – with Lisburn and Castlereagh having the lowest figure of 15.9 per cent. The average figure for the North as a whole was 22 per cent.


However, the study – which was released last week – only goes up to March 2022 where a number of measures to ease financial burdens for low income were in place.

And with those measures, such as the £20 uplift to universal credit, no longer around, Samantha Gallagher of Community Action Fermanagh fears that any report showing figures up to March of this year would paint a much bleaker picture.

She said: “If we look behind the scenes of what was happening around that time, we still had the £20 a week uplift on universal credit and also the minimal income floor wasn’t really being applied at that time.

“So for those low income families – who are likely to be on social security – most of them will be on universal credit by this stage. If they were getting that uplift or that reprieve on the minimal income floor was being applied, then their income was going to be higher thus taking them out of that one in five statistic for Fermanagh.

“Because Fermanagh has a notoriously high level of social security involvement, I think that while those figures are still stark and concerning, I don’t think that they show where we truly are now.

“The cost of living crisis had not been hitting at that point so things are probably worse now than those figures say.

“We’ve sat down with the Northern Ireland Anti-Poverty Network and they’ve said to us – which we agree with – that the true figures will be as bad of one in four children in poverty in Fermanagh. Perhaps even one in three in some areas of the county.”


Gallagher states that the benefit top-ups being taken away will affect both the unemployed and those in work.

She added: “Wages are notoriously low in Fermanagh and because of that, we rely very heavily on social security as a top-up to that.

“That’s down to a lack of investment to the area in terms of well-paid jobs and our poor infrastructure for example.

“We also have a level of self-employment in the area and that’s a section of the community that’s also reliant on social security top-ups.

“The £20 top-up of universal credit helped many families in Fermanagh out of poverty. Those people have now lost that help so that’s why I would be predicting that those figures would be higher for where we are now.”

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