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Poverty


Over ten years on from the financial crash, and after six years of economic growth, before the onset of Covid-19, across the European Union there were 16.8 million people unemployed, 6.65 million people long-term unemployed, and 86 million people living in poverty of whom 19 million were children.  This presents significant challenges as Europe grapples with the social and economic consequences of the current crisis.


‘A Rising Tide Failing to Lift All Boats’ is the latest publication in Social Justice Ireland’s European Research Series.   This report analyses performance in areas such as poverty and inequality, employment, access to key public services and taxation.  The report also points to key policy proposals and alternatives for discussion.  These include the right to sufficient income, meaningful work and access to essential quality services.  The policy proposals explore how these areas might be delivered upon in a changing world.

An open and transparent policy evaluation process, with meaningful engagement from all stakeholders, would ensure that we learn from our successes and from our mistakes. Such a process would ensure that we evaluate both and offer a framework to take our policy successes and replicate them across Government.  Social Justice Ireland believes strongly in the importance of developing a rights-based approach to social, economic, and cultural policy.  A key policy measure to deliver an open and transparent policy evaluation process is to measure the socio-economic impact of each budget.  This should be a statutory responsibility for Government.

Government should strive to create a new economic model based on fairness.   This would ensure that the benefits accruing from a vibrant economy would be distributed in a more equal manner.  Addressing poverty and social exclusion will play a key role in this regard.  The new Government should set an ambitious national poverty reduction target and make persistent poverty the primary indicator of poverty measurement.

Life on a low income is the norm for a large proportion of our society. Prior to the current public health crisis, one in every seven people in Ireland lived with an income below the poverty line; about 680,000 people. Looking ahead, these numbers look set to rise as the very uneven impact of the Covid-19 crisis unfolds. 

Poverty focus is an annual publication from Social Justice Ireland where we focus on the nature and experience of poverty in Ireland. Drawing on the available statistical evidence, we outline how poverty is measured, the value of the poverty line and consider many of the groups in our society who are most exposed to living life below the poverty line.

Social justice matters. That is why Social Justice Ireland publishes our annual socio-economic review. This book is about charting a course to a fairer Ireland. Social Justice Matters 2020 provides an analysis of the present situation on a wide range of issues and identifies a programme of initiatives and policies that can address our challenges in an integrated and sustainable manner.

Ireland has one of the most unequal distributions of market income in the European Union. We rely heavily on our tax and social welfare systems to produce a more equal society. High rates of poverty and income inequality have been the norm in Irish society for some time. Read Social Justice Ireland's Election Briefing on Income for an outline of a number of key challenges facing Ireland and some policy proposals that should be in the next Programme for Government.

Ireland has been without a National Action Plan for Social Inclusion for over two years, a failure of Government to protect the most vulnerable in society.  Yesterday (14th January 2020) the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection published the Roadmap for Social Inclusion 2020-2025 which “sets out the Government’s ambition for Ireland to become one of the most socially inclusive States in the EU, defines a number of specific targets to be achieved and details a number of key commitments to deliver on this ambition and these targets” – but is this ambition enough?  Our review suggests that there will be almost the same number of people in poverty in 2025 as in 2018.

The poverty rates for single person households have risen notably in the last decade, while they have fallen or remain more-or-less static for others. Increased poverty for those living alone is keeping Ireland's poverty rates high and presents a policy challenge for government.

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