A leading children's charity has urged parents not to borrow from moneylenders for Christmas.

It comes as 400,000 children face Christmas living in deprivation without basic essentials including proper food, clothing and heating in their homes.

Barnardos warned the rising cost of living and borrowing from moneylenders could mean increased debt, worry and anxiety for deprived families in the New Year.

"What the Government has done in terms of once-off payments has been helpful. However, it's certainly not going to be enough in the New Year," Barnardos CEO Suzanne Connolly said.

She added she had encountered families worried about Christmas since September, and advised parents not to go to a moneylender "because that will just increase their worries and anxieties and debt in the New Year".

It comes as Central Statistics Office figures show 17% of the population is living in deprivation - 400,000 of whom are children.

The CSO’s Income and Living Conditions: Enforced Deprivation 2022 survey also showed the number of households "with at least some difficulty in making ends meet increased from 42% in 2021 to 49.3% in 2022".

Barnardos said the statistics show the "increasing number of families falling into deprivation as a result of cost of living increases".

"We know from the latest CSO data is that there's over 400,000 children in Ireland today who are living in enforced deprivation.

"That means that children are living without basic essentials. They may not have a sufficiently warm winter coat or they won't have two pairs of shoes.

"Some will be struggling because there isn't enough heat in the house, some won't have enough food or the right type of food. It's a very stark reality for some children around today," Ms Connolly said.

She added that the rising cost of living - food, heating, and energy costs - has made things worse for struggling families this year compared to last year.

"It absolutely is worse this year because of the extra costs incurred in daily living expenses. And we also know there's real pressure on families at Christmas because parents want to really ensure their children have a really nice time. Parents don't want their children to do without," she said.

Professor of Psychology at the University of Limerick Orla Muldoon said parents should talk to their children as the festive season draws closer.

"There's no doubt that parents feel that there's pressure on them to deliver. It is worth talking to children and communicating with children - even small children.

"The thing to remember is that what children want and what children need are two different things. Parents are best placed to understand what it is that children need.

"Ultimately parents have to make hard choices because they're not unending financial resources. Nobody should put themselves in a position that they have to pay for Christmas for the rest of the year because that has implications for children for the year," said Prof Muldoon.