In the last Executive, the SDLP made child poverty a priority in the Programme for Government, establishing the Children's Fund and other Executive Programme Funds in support of child and family services. We made sure that child poverty was a key deprivation indicator and set up the office of Children's Commissioner.
Today, several elements of the SDLP's legacy have been rejected by the ruling political parties. It is unacceptable that there is no longer a Children's Fund and no clear budget for a Children's Strategy.
We will continue to work towards the implementation of a more effective Anti-Poverty Strategy that can unleash the potential of all our people to contribute to the building of a prosperous economy and a fair and inclusive society.
The eradication of fuel poverty is a vital element of the work to eliminate social exclusion and to achieve a sustainable future for all. People in warm homes are healthier, and children in warm homes are more likely to reach their full development potential.
Developing an effective strategy against fuel poverty will mean less strain on the health service and people will take fewer days off work through ill-health.
In the last mandate, former SDLP Social Development Minister, Margaret Ritchie, led the charge in tackling fuel poverty here by committing to a vision of eradicating fuel poverty for vulnerable people and those who live in social housing by 2010 and for other households by 2016. Margaret Ritchie's winter fuel payment scheme is one of the present Executive's notable successes.