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Rise in numbers poor a major Budget challenge for Government

The increase in the proportion of Ireland’s population at risk of poverty, (from 14.1% to 15.8% in one year) clearly identifies a major challenge for Government as it finalises its Budget for 2012. Budget 2012 must give priority to protecting Ireland’s poorest and most vulnerable people according to Social Justice Ireland

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

  • More than 220,000 children are now at risk of poverty up 37,000 in three years (19.5% of all children).
  • Income inequality grew with the richest 20% of the population having 5.5 times the disposable income of those in the poorest 20%.
  • Even though the poverty line fell by more than 10% in a single year, the risk of poverty among the whole population grew from 14.1% to 15.8% in a single year.
  • More than one in six (17.3%) of all those at risk of poverty has a job.
  • The social welfare system plays a critically important role in reducing poverty. Without social welfare payments 51% of the population would be at risk of poverty.

Policy Implications for Budget 2012

The policy implications for Budget 2012 are obvious according to Social Justice Ireland:
  • Any decrease in Child Benefit will lead to an increase in child poverty.
  • Any increase in VAT will increase income inequality as well as poverty because those in the poorest 20% spend a higher proportion of their income on VAT than any other quintile of the population.
  • Any reduction in social welfare rates will increase poverty.
  • Any further reduction on the income of the working poor will also increase poverty.
  • The elimination of poverty should be a Government priority in Budget 2012 and in all that it does subsequently.
Ireland is not a poor country and can eliminate poverty even though the economic situation is difficult at present.
The full text of the publication from the Central Statistics Office, entitled Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) may be downloaded below