750,000 are now living in poverty

  Joan Burton: Social welfare support net critical.

More than 750,000 people are living in poverty in Ireland, including 220,000 children and 68,740 pensioners — with the gap between the poorest and richest increasing since the recession began.

Latest details from the CSO show that in 2012, the most up-to-date figures available, 756,591 people were living in poverty in Ireland.

The rate includes 68,740 people over the age of 65 and 220,411 under the age of 18, highlighting the wide-reaching impact of a half-a-decade long recession on the population.

Between 2007 and 2012, the number of Irish people living in “consistent poverty” almost doubled, from 4.2% of the population to 7.7%. Those experiencing two or more forms of “enforced deprivation” almost trebled during the same era, from 11% to 27%.

The “poverty” and “deprivation” figures are based on a series of daily problems including:

* The number of people who went without heating at some stage in the past 12 months (6% in 2007, 12.9% in 2012);

* The number unable to afford new clothes (5.2% in 2007, 10.4% in 2012);

* The number unable to eat a meal with meat, chicken or fish every second day (2.2% in 2007, 3.9% in 2012);

* Those unable to afford to replace worn-out furniture (13.8% in 2007, 24.5% in 2012).

The CSO files also show that in the same period, the gap between the richest and poorest 20% of the population increased by more than 11%.

Meanwhile, the CSO show that 6% of people working in 2012 were still living in poverty, and that half of people living in below average private rented accommodation are at risk of poverty.

Social Protection Minister Joan Burton said the report highlights the “critical importance” of the social welfare “safety net” — namely jobseeker allowance, child benefit and State pension payments — in “protecting people against poverty”.

However, Social Justice Ireland director, Dr Sean Healy, said the figures are damning reading for all parties which have been in power since the recession began.

* The full CSO Survey on Income and Living Conditions report can be read at the link provided.

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