More than one-third of renters living in deprivation, new figures show

More than one-third of renters living in deprivation, new figures show

Renters, single-parent families and those with disabilities were most at risk of living in enforced deprivation, according to a new CSO survey. File Picture.

There was an increase in people living in enforced deprivation last year, with renters, single-parent families and those with disabilities being most at risk, according to a new CSO study.

The enforced deprivation rate in Ireland overall increased to 17.8% in 2019, which means people were unable to afford two or more deprivation indicators, such as keeping their home warm, replacing furniture, or going out for a meal.

This compares with 15.1% in 2018, despite the relative economic growth and high employment rate Ireland experienced in 2019, before the pandemic.

The largest year-on-year increase in the enforced deprivation rate was among those living in rented accommodation, rising from 27.4% in 2018 to 34.4% in 2019. 

There was little change for those living in owner-occupied accommodation, with the rate being 10.3% in 2019 and 10% in 2018.

Almost half - some 45.5% - of the households experiencing enforced deprivation had one adult and one or more children aged under 18, and, overall, one-in-five children were living in enforced deprivation last year. 

Of the households experiencing this type of poverty, 43.3% had people who were not at work due to permanent illness or disability, while 36% were unemployed.

The lowest enforced deprivation rates were among retired people (9.4%), households with three or more persons at work (7.4%), and those with a third level degree or higher (5.3%). 

The most common types of deprivation experienced by Irish households was an inability to replace worn-out furniture, with 18.1% saying this was not possible for them.

Some 13.6% said they could not afford to meet family or friends for a drink or a meal once a month, and another 11.7% said they could not afford a morning, afternoon or evening out in the last fortnight.

Since 2004, women have been more likely to experience enforced deprivation than men. In 2019, 18.3% of females and 17.4% of males experienced deprivation.

The proportion of the population experiencing three or more types of deprivation items was 12.% in 2019, an increase from 9.9% in 2018.

Enforced deprivation is defined as not being able to afford two or more of the 11 deprivation indicators. 

These indicators include being without heating at some stage in the last year, being unable to afford a morning, afternoon or evening out in last fortnight, being unable to afford two pairs of strong shoes, and not being able to afford a meal with meat, chicken or fish every second day.

The next set of indicators are being unable to afford new clothes which are not second-hand, being unable to afford a warm waterproof coat, not being able to keep the home adequately warm, and not having the money to replace any worn-out furniture.

"The data confirms the experience of SVP members who have seen housing costs as a key driver of poverty and financial hardship in recent years," said Dr Tricia Keilthy, St Vincent de Paul's Head of Social Justice.

Ms Keilthy added that individuals and families living in the private rental sector often have to cut back on basics like food and heating, in order to afford their rent.

"The fact that almost half of lone parents were experiencing enforced deprivation prior to the pandemic is very concerning.

"Due to school and childcare closures many parents have had to give up work to care for their children and many are now at risk of long-term unemployment."

SVP also called for the government to take urgent action, as they believe the poverty figures will deteriorate even further due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Peter Dooley from the Dublin Renters Union said the increase in deprivation among renters in Ireland comes as no surprise and adds to an existing trend especially amid Covid-19. 

Mr Dooley said: "It's been a consistent theme over the last number of years that people who don't own their own homes have been more at risk of poverty and deprivation. 

"And obviously in the context of Covid more people are going to be out of work and its pushing people eventually over the edge."

Meanwhile, Threshold has also issued an urgent appeal to Cork landlords with vacant properties to work with their Access Housing Unit. 

The service matches landlords with tenants who are living in temporary accommodation or at risk of homelessness. 

The tenant completes a pre-tenancy programme and is made aware of their rights and obligations as tenants. Once a lease is agreed to, the rented property is visited by a representative from Threshold's Access Housing Unit on a regular basis for the duration of the tenancy.

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