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Policy issues concerning Income Distribution and Poverty

The consultation on the National Action Plan for Social Inclusion 2018 to 2021 has been released by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection with a closing date of 16th March 2018.  This consultation is open to all, organisations and individuals, and while Social Justice Ireland encourages all to participate, we are concerned that the questions are framed in such a way as to allow Government to abdicate their responsibilities to the most vulnerable.

A new study of 11 EU countries shows that Ireland has a significant and increasing gap in deprivation between vulnerable adults and other adults in society. The research, from the Economic and Social Research Institute, (published 31 January 2018), shows there is a significant and widening gap in the rate of persistent deprivation experienced by vulnerable adults, including lone parents and adults with a disability, and the rate experienced by other adults. Of the 11 EU countries studied, Ireland’s gap was the largest and increased the most during the study’s time frame of 2004-2015.

While the economy is doing well, it is crucial that policy-makers realise that many on lower incomes are not benefiting as they should. Almost 800,000 people in Ireland are living in poverty, a quarter of a million of whom are children. 1 million people in Ireland are experiencing deprivation. 105,000 people are working in a job with income so low they are living in poverty. Social Justice Ireland has a plan to fix this, and to build a fairer society for all.

The CSO Survey on Income and Living Conditions has been published. It shows that despite some small improvements in poverty and deprivation rates, more than 790,000 people are living in poverty in Ireland, of which over 250,000 are children. These figures are unacceptable in a rich, developed country like Ireland.

Sean Healy, Director of Social Justice Ireland, was invited by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs to be part of an Expert Group Meeting on “Strategies for Eradicating Poverty to Achieve Sustainable Development for All” which was held at the United Nations in New York in May 2017.  This Expert Group Meeting was organised  to make specific policy recommendations on effective strategies for eradicating poverty in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including lessons from the implementation of the Second United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (2008-2017). 

Ireland is not making progress towards meeting some of its Europe 2020 Targets.  This is one of the main findings of Social Justice Ireland's  latest report, Ireland and the Europe 2020 Strategy.  The report finds that Ireland needs to make greater efforts to meet the Europe 2020 targets on employment and reducing poverty and social exclusion.

The CSO Survey on Income and Living Conditions has been published.  It shows that despite an increase in median incomes 789,855 people are living in poverty in Ireland today.  Of this number 245,645 are children under the age of 18.  Despite the increase in median incomes and other signs of economic recovery these figures show that a significant proportion of the population is still living in very difficult circumstances.  These figures are unacceptable in a developed Western economy.

Without the social welfare system almost 50 per cent of the Irish population would have been living in poverty in 2014.  Adequate social welfare payments are required to prevent an increase in poverty.  Between 2010 and early 2016 inflation was 3.44 per cent - implying that a buying power of €188 in 2010 was equivalent to €194.50 by February 2016. 

Since the onset of the recession the number of people in poverty in Ireland has increased by more than 100,000.   Today there are more than 750,000 people living in poverty in Ireland; this is a major concern.  More than 57 per cent of those in poverty are not connected to the labour market; they are people who are retired, students, people in caring roles or people who are ill or people with a disability.

Despite some modest gains in some regions in the world, millions of women are losing ground in their quest for equality in the world of work, according to a new report prepared by the International Labour Organization (ILO). The report, Women at Work: Trends 2016  examined data for up to 178 countries and concludes that inequality between women and men persists across a wide spectrum of the global labour market.

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