Chris Lyttle MLA said: “I am very disappointed that the DUP and Sinn Fein decided to protect the First and deputy First Ministers rather than accept that there is an urgent need to tackle the rising levels of child poverty. While Northern Ireland is covered by UK child poverty reduction legislation, there are however no specific targets that our Departments must meet.
“Despite the work of OFMDFM to tackle these issues, around 1 in 4 children in Northern Ireland live in relative poverty and material deprivation and income poverty has increased by 3% in the last three years. A third of households do not have basic necessities such as food and clothing. 1 in every 20 of people are not properly fed by today’s standards, meaning that food banks are being required in our constituencies.
“This poverty has a wide impact on the life of a child. Without a proper diet, a warm home or access to computers and internet, the education of a child can also suffer and the chances of breaking this cycle of poverty becomes very difficult.
“The Commissioner for Children and Young People has recently voiced her concerns that OFMDFM are not meeting their requirement under the 2010 Child Poverty legislation to demonstrate that it is taking action to tackle this growing problem. The decision of the First and deputy First Ministers’ parties to reject this call for specific child poverty reduction targets shows that they do not want any close monitoring of what they are doing on this issue.
“All political parties and relevant organisations must work together to hold the Executive to account on implementation of the Child Poverty Strategy if we are to achieve the aim of providing equal opportunity and hope to all our children and young people.”