Children going without medical care due to cost of living

New report from Barnardos highlights crisis

Deborah Condon

May 24, 2023

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  • A significant number of parents and their children have had to cut back on essentials such as food, heating and medical care over the last six months as a result of the cost of living crisis, a new report from Barnardos has revealed.

    According to the report, 73% of parents surveyed said that cost of living increases have negatively affected their children over the last six months, while 17% said they have been significantly affected.

    Some 28% of parents said they had to cut back on or go without medical care, medicines, therapy or health assessments during this time. Meanwhile, 37% said they had to go without or cut down on heating.

    A further 23% said they had to cut down on electricity use, while 20% said they had to go without or cut down on food. Some 43% said their children had gone without new clothes, while 57% said they had to cut back on their children’s social activities/entertainment.

    One parent commented that their child “has no lunch going to school, can’t afford to go places with his friends and is sitting in a cold room trying to do his homework”.

    Another parent said that their daughter has only three outfits and one pair of shoes and the family cannot afford any more.

    The report noted that 70% of parents said they always or sometimes worry about not being able to provide their children with daily essentials, such as food and heat. Just 11% said they never worry.

    Parents pointed out that they their mental health is worsening because of worries associated with the cost of living. One parent commented that if prices get higher, “I don’t know how we will survive”.

    “It is unacceptable that children are going without the absolute minimal necessities and are being pulled into deprivation as a result of cost of living increases. All children across Ireland are entitled to a standard of living that supports their emotional, social and physical development,” insisted Suzanne Connolly, CEO of Barnardos.

    She said that while some measures have helped over the last year, “it is clear from parents interviewed that they don’t feel the measures have gone far enough”.

    “It is vital that the government introduces proactive, targeted policies to ensure that all children in Ireland, at an absolute minimum, live in homes that have sufficient food, live in appropriately heated accommodation and don’t go without electricity,” Ms Connolly commented.

    Barbardos is calling on the government to take action in four key areas; income supports; food; heating and electricity; social activities.

    In the area of food, it is calling on the government to expand the hot meals programme to secondary schools and more non-DEIS schools, and to pilot an expansion of school meals during holiday time.

    The full report, Cost of Living Crisis: Impact on Children 2023, can be viewed here.

    © Medmedia Publications/MedMedia News 2023