The disposable income of Ireland’s poorest households fell by 18.6% in a single year while the income of the richest rose by 4.1%. (Disposable income is the income one has after taxes paid and social welfare received.)
Today the top 10 per cent of the population receives almost 14 times more disposable income than the poorest 10 per cent receive (28.5% compared to 2.06%). It was 8 times more in 1980.
Government policy is continuing to increase the income of the richest ten per cent of households and widening the gap between these and the rest of society.
The income of Ireland’s poorest households fell by more than 18% in a single year while the income of the richest rose by more than 4%. There is something profoundly wrong with Government decisions that produce this lop-sided distribution of income favouring the richest when Ireland’s poor and middle-income people struggle to make ends meet in these extremely difficult times.
These are some of the key finding contained in Social Justice Ireland’s Policy Briefing published on July 16, 2012 which analyses the related issues of Poverty and Income Distribution and shows how Ireland’s income distribution has changed over the past 30 years.
Rich/Poor gap widening
Today the top 10 per cent of the population receives almost 14 times more disposable income than the poorest 10 per cent receive (28.5% compared to 2.06%). In this context disposable income is the income one has after taxes have been paid and social welfare has been received but before any bills have been paid.
The situation has become much worse over the past thirty years. In 1980 the richest ten per cent of the population received 8 times more than the poorest 10 per cent, now it receives 14 times more.
The current strategy being pursued by Government is making the situation worse. Its approach to fiscal adjustment (i.e. emphasising cuts rather than broadening the tax base) is both unjust and unnecessary in a country with one of the lowest total tax-takes in the developed world. Decisions have been taken that have seriously damaged Ireland’s most vulnerable people, that place a disproportionate burden on their shoulders and seriously damage the social infrastructure on which they depend.
The Policy Briefing goes on to point out that:
Social Justice Ireland believes that in the period ahead Government and policy-makers generally should:
The most important requirement in tackling poverty is the provision of sufficient income to enable people to live life with dignity. No anti-poverty strategy can be effective without a policy addressing low incomes.