A leading charity is predicting that poverty levels will get worse this year, despite the economic recovery.
The Society of St Vincent De Paul says crippling rents are a major factor in the level of disadvantage experienced by many families.
In its New Year Statement, the charity says it expects to field more calls for help in 2018 than it received last year.
Kieran Stafford of SVP says the situation is not improving for the least well-off in our society.
She said: "We're seeing that the situation is getting worse for the people that we are helping.
"It was an extremely busy Christmas for our members and we're finding the same problems that we've been finding two years, three years, four years, five years ago."
Mr Stafford also said improving educational access is vital in tackling disadvantage.
He said: "We've been calling on Government to improve access to education for people who are coming from Social Welfare backgrounds.
"In particlular, lone parents who make up one quarter of the number of people who are living in consistent poverty."