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733,000 people in poverty points to major failure of Government policy

The increase in the proportion of Ireland’s population at risk of poverty, (from 14.7% to 16.0% in one year) clearly identifies a major policy failure by Government which has imposed a disproportionate part of the ‘hit’ for current budgetary adjustments on Ireland’s poor and vulnerable people. 

Government should give priority to ensuring that everyone in Ireland has the income and services to live life with basic dignity, which is not currently the case.

An analysis of the new poverty statistics published by the Central Statistics Office shows that:

  1. The number of people in poverty has now reached a record level of 733,000.
  2. More than 232,000 children are now at risk of poverty (18.8% of all children, compared to 18.4% a year earlier).
  3. Even though the poverty line fell by more than 2% in a single year, the risk of poverty among the whole population grew from 14.7% to 16.0% in a single year.
  4. One in seven (14.2%) of all those at risk of poverty has a job.
  5. The social welfare system plays a critically important role in reducing poverty. Without social welfare payments 50.7% of the population would be at risk of poverty.

Policy Implications

The policy implications for Government are obvious according to Social Justice Ireland:

  • Decreases in Child Benefit lead to increases in child poverty.
  • Reductions in social welfare rates increase poverty.
  • Failure to make tax credits refundable has meant a steady rise in the working poor.
  • The elimination of poverty should be a Government priority and in all future planning.
  • A major increase in investment is urgently required to ensure the number of jobs available grows. Without jobs there will be no recovery and the numbers in poverty will continue to grow.

Social Justice Ireland believes that Ireland is not a poor country and can eliminate poverty even though the economic situation is difficult at present.

The full text of the CSO publication (February 13, 2013) may be downloaded below

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