Child Poverty in Northern Ireland: The Limits of Welfare-to-Work Policies

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Levels of child poverty in Northern Ireland are high; 32 per cent of children live in households whose only income derives from benefits, compared with 19 per cent of children in Britain living in families totally dependent on benefits. Unemployment, low pay, a higher cost of living, low levels of public services, including childcare and support services for people with disabilities, slightly larger families and a lack of access by poorer women to the means of limiting their family size, together with even greater levels of inequality than in Britain, all contribute to the high levels of child poverty in Northern Ireland. This paper argues that even the less ambitious child poverty targets announced by the Department of Work and Pensions at the end of 2003 will not be met
unless there is a fundamental change in the government’s approach. In particular, evidence from Northern Ireland suggests that its insistence on work as the primary—if not only—route out of poverty will not lead to a radical reduction in levels of child poverty.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49 - 64
Number of pages15
JournalSocial Policy & Administration
Issue number1
Early online date1 Feb 2005
Publication statusPublished online - 1 Feb 2005


  • children
  • poverty
  • childcare
  • unemployment


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