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Over 100,000 people in employment in poverty. Stark figures need immediate action

More than 104,000 people with a job live in poverty. Stark figures need immediate action.

Over 100,000 people in employment are at risk of poverty. This shocking figure indicates that the employment system is broken and workers’ rights are not being protected or prioritized by policy makers.

Poverty Focus 2018, a new annual publication from Social Justice Ireland, looks at the figures behind poverty in Ireland. It concludes that, overall, 1 in every 6 people in Ireland today live on incomes below the poverty line, making up 16.5% of the population. This year’s edition of Poverty Focus pays special attention to the working poor as a particularly vulnerable group. Its main findings include:

  • 104,000+ people with a job are living in poverty;
  • This is a remarkable statistic and it is important that policy makers begin to recognize and address this problem;
  • What is even more notable is that this number has been rising since 2009 despite the economic recovery;
  • The economic recovery has failed to address the issues of low pay, precarious work and an unfair tax system;
  • Of all those living below the poverty line, people in employment made up 13.3%;
  • The failure to make tax-credits refundable is totally unacceptable.

If people in employment can’t be guaranteed a life free from poverty then there is something seriously wrong. We have been saying for quite some time now that Ireland’s social contract is broken. This is further proof. The priorities of our policymakers should reflect the will of the people. This is not the will of the Irish people. Policymakers need to take action.

Workers rights are not being protected when 104,000 people can have a job but still be at risk of poverty. Employers availing of precarious employment contracts and low pay are among those responsible. Government must take responsibility for ensuring a job is always a route out of poverty, not into it.

The research also highlighted how 780,000 people live in poverty in Ireland today. The largest group in poverty are children, who make up 26.5% of all those in poverty. That means that 1 in every 4 people below the poverty line is a child. People on home duties, including those caring for children and older people etc, are the next largest group in poverty at 14.7%. The unemployed and the those in employment were at 13.5% and 13.3% respectively.

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