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A measure of persistent poverty in Ireland is crucial, and long overdue

Social Justice Ireland has always been committed to using the best and most up-to-date data in our ongoing socio-economic analysis of Ireland. We believe that to do so is crucial to the emergence of accurate evidence-based policy formation. It also assists in establishing appropriate and justifiable targeting of state resources.

As part of the European Union structure of social indicators, Ireland has agreed to produce an indicator of persistent poverty. This indicator measures the proportion of those in society who are living below the poverty line in the current year who were also below the poverty line for two of the three preceding years. It therefore identifies those who experience sustained exposure to poverty, which is seen as harmful to their quality of life.

To date the Irish SILC survey has not produced any detailed results and breakdowns for this measure. We regret the unavailability of this data and note that there remain some sampling and technical issues impeding its annual publication. However, we note ongoing moves by the CSO to address this issue.

Social Justice Ireland believes that this data should be used as the primary basis for setting poverty targets and monitoring changes in poverty status. Existing measures of relative and consistent poverty should be maintained as secondary indicators. If there are impediments to the annual production of this indicator, they should be addressed and the SILC sample augmented if required. A measure of persistent poverty is long overdue and a crucial missing piece in society’s knowledge of households and individuals on low income.