Economic deprivation hitting one in four

Almost one-in-four Irish people suffer some form of economic deprivation with children and families the worst affected, figures reveal.

About 250,000 children are at risk of poverty and Ireland’s consistent poverty rate has soared over the past three years. The consistent poverty rate for children has risen from 8.8% in 2010 to 9.3% in 2011.

Furthermore, average disposable income has fallen sharply, from a high of €24,380 in 2008 to €21,440 last year.

The latest study by the CSO also highlights the increasing dependence on social welfare, showing that more than half the population would be at risk of poverty if they could not rely on state handouts.

Figures released yesterday by the CSO reveal that the percentage of Irish residents who experience economic deprivation has more than doubled from 11.8% in 2007 to 24.5% in 2011.

The Survey on Income and Living Conditions in Ireland shows that in the 12 months from 2010 to 2011 the percentage of those at risk of poverty increased to 16% from 14.7%.

The CSO figures sparked a flurry of comment from welfare organisations, with most saying that they represented a failure of government policy towards those in need.

“This clearly identifies a major policy failure by Government which has imposed a disproportionate part of the ‘hit’ for current budgetary adjustments on Ireland’s poor and vulnerable people,” said Seán Healy, Director of Social Justice Ireland.

“Government should give priority to ensuring that everyone in Ireland has the income and services to live life with basic dignity, which is not currently the case. Ireland is not a poor country and can eliminate poverty even though the economic situation is difficult at present.”

Children’s charity Barnardos said the figures showed the ravaging effects of the recession on children and families in Ireland.

Barnardos’ CEO, Fergus Finlay, said: “Every budget for the last two years has eroded family income in multiple ways. The high rate of poverty for children, and the startling increase in deprivation figures for all families shows that Government choices have fundamentally failed to protect children and families.”

The CSO study shows that in 2011 average annual disposable income was €21,440. This represents a decline of just over 3% on the 2010 figure of €22,138 and continued a downward trend from a peak of €24,380 in 2008.

Those who attained a third-level degree or higher continued to have the highest average income in 2011, at €33,244. Those living in accommodation rented at below the market rate or rent free had the lowest average income, at €13,831. This group also had the lowest average income in 2010.

In 2011, almost one quarter (24.5%) of the population experienced two or more types of enforced deprivation. This compares with 22.6% in 2010 and an eight-year low of 11.8% in 2007.

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