790,000 people living in poverty in Ireland: Social Justice Ireland

By Cillian Sherlock

More than 790,000 people are living in poverty in Ireland, of which over 250,000 are children, despite some small improvements in poverty and deprivation rates, according to Social Justice Ireland.

Citing the latest CSO poverty statisitcs, the group said 16.5% of the population were at risk of poverty, while the consistent poverty rate was 8.3%.

The CEO of Social Justice Ireland went on to point out 105,000 "working poor" are in employment while living in poverty,.

"These figures are unacceptable in a rich, developed country like Ireland” – Dr. Seán Healy said.

He said those labelled as 'at risk of poverty' actually had incomes below the poverty line.

Dr Healy said without social welfare payments the poverty figure would rise to 44.9%.

SVP said the latest CSO data confirms the charity's experience that hundreds of thousands of low income households continue to be unable to afford essentials like food, adequate housing and heating.

It said deprivation rates demonstrated "that employment doesn't always guarantee a decent standard of living".

According to new figures from the CSO, the deprivation rate in 2016 was 21% down from over 25% the previous year.

One million people in Ireland are experiencing deprivation. This amounts to a deprivation rate of 21% in 2016, down from 25% in the previous year.

"The housing crisis, precarious work, the cost of education, utilities and other services makes life extremely challenging for those living on a low income”, said SVP National President Kieran Stafford.

The CSO data shows that 14.3% of those in private rented accommodation are living in consistent poverty, an increase of 3 percentage points from 2015, according to SVP.

Households are considered to be living in deprivation if they are deprived of two or more of eleven basic deprivation indicators like heating, being able to afford new rather than second-hand clothes or a warm, waterproof coat.

SVP said little progress had been made in tackling child poverty as rates remain "virtually unchanged". There are approximately 70,000 more children living in poverty since 2008.

Barnardos has said the child poverty rates are "distressing".

“Yet again we see shockingly little progress on tackling child poverty in Ireland. In one of the wealthiest countries in the world it is a stain on our prosperity that almost 139,000 children are living in consistent poverty," said Head of Advocacy June Tinsley.

She raised doubts over the Government's commitment to lift 100,00 children out of poverty by 2020.

"Poverty affects every aspect of a child’s life, their health, their wellbeing, their education and their future. Poverty cannot be viewed in isolation - families and children stuck in a poverty trap are more likely to be victims of the homelessness crisis as they cannot afford rapidly rising rents," she said.

"This is not inevitable. It is a result of poor decision-making by policymakers who favoured tax cuts over investments in key public services," she added.

Elsewhere, SVP highlighted concern that almost a quarter of one parent families were living in poverty.

“It is extremely worrying that 1 in 4 one parent families are living in consistent poverty. It is clear that a more integrated approach which tackles the issues of low income, inadequate service provision particularly in areas of childcare and housing is urgently needed," said the charity's Head of Social Justice Dr Tricia Keilthy.

The data is compiled from figures supplied by the Revenue Commissioners, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection and the CSO.

The average disposable income in 2016 was just over €20,500, an increase of 3% from last year.

Elsewhere, one in five people in Ireland were unable to replace worn-out furniture last year while 15% of the population could not afford a night out every two weeks.

Just under a quarter of foreign nationals who had a PPS number in 2011 had employment last year.

The statistics also show of almost 59,000 people aged 15 years and over who were assigned PPSN's six years ago, nearly 14,000 were working at any time in 2016.


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