Action urged to tackle 'depressing' rates of child poverty

Campaign groups have claimed not enough is being done to tackle inequality and child poverty.

The warnings follow findings from a CSO survey on income and living conditions.

The findings demonstrate a “consistent poverty rate” of 8.7%, which includes people who are defined as being both at risk of poverty and also experiencing enforced deprivation.

The figures relate to 2015 and show a slight drop from the 2014 figure of 8.8%.

It revealed the 2015 ‘at risk of poverty’ rate was 16.9%, down from 17.2% in 2014. It relates to the share of people whose income was less than 60% of the national median income and was down from 17.2% in 2014.

The percentage of people considered to be experiencing ‘enforced deprivation’ was 25.5%, also down from 29% in 2014.”

Enforced deprivation is defined as not being able to afford two or more basics such as going without heating in the past year, or being unable to afford items such as two pairs of strong shoes, a warm waterproof coat, and, every second day, a meal with meat, chicken, or fish.

The Simon Communities in Ireland said that, at the present rate, Ireland will not meet its 2020 aim to reduce the numbers experiencing consistent poverty to 2% or less.

Social Justice Ireland, meanwhile, noted the survey shows there are 789,855 people living in poverty in Ireland today, 245,645 of whom are children.

“Despite an increase in median incomes and other signs of economic recovery, the figures show a significant proportion of the population is still living in very difficult circumstances.

"These figures are unacceptable in a developed Western economy,” said Michelle Murphy, research and policy analyst with Social Justice Ireland.

The children’s charity Barnardos described the child poverty rates as “depressing”.

“Again we see that one in nine children live in consistent poverty in Ireland and almost a third of children experience deprivation, while the number of children at risk of poverty has not improved since 2010,” said Fergus Finlay, the chief executive of Barnardos.

However, Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar said the figures point to improving conditions for many. “These figures demolish the argument made by some on the left that the gap between rich and poor is widening in Ireland. It is not,” he claimed.

“These numbers prove that the economic recovery is taking hold, is having a positive impact on incomes, and is reducing inequality.”

Mr Varadkar did concede, though, that the figures “also show we have a long way to go”.

He said: “Consistent poverty remains much higher now than it was in 2008 at the outset of the financial crisis when it stood at 4.2%. There are still too many people struggling to make ends meet.”



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