Numbers suffering "enforced" deprivation fall, but more people at risk of poverty
The number of people suffering "enforced" deprivation fell last year, but fractionally more people were at risk of poverty.
Around 29pc of the population were in "enforced" deprivation - being unable to afford at least two basics, such as replacing worn out furniture, an evening out, or heating - according to the Central Statistics Office (CSO). That’s roughly 1.3 million people.
This compares with a rate of 30.5pc in 2013, and a low of 7.9pc in 2007.
However, it is the first drop in the deprivation rate since 2007.
Economic growth last year surged by 5.2pc, the fastest in Europe, with indicators pointing to a strong recovery in the economy.
But the CSO’s Survey on Income and Living Conditions showed that 15.7pc of the population went without heating at some stage in the last year, 22.2pc were unable to afford a morning, afternoon or evening out, and 25.5pc were unable to replace worn out furniture.
The CSO said the ‘at risk of poverty’ rate was 16.3pc compared with 15.2pc the previous year.
Separate data from the CSO show that average weekly earnings had increased by 2.7pc to €688.80 by the end of September.
Across the economic sectors average weekly earnings increased in 11 of the 13 sectors, with the largest percentage increase recorded in the administrative and support services sector, up 7.6%, rising from €474.85 to €510.76.
The Construction sector experienced the largest percentage decrease, falling 1.2pc from €707.36 to €698.64.
Average weekly earnings in the private sector showed an increase of 3.6pc from €604.50 to €626.07, while public sector average wages, including the semi-states, increased 0.1pc from €904.34 to €905.02.
Davy Stockbrokers said the data shows that average earnings rose at their fastest pace since the recession began in 2008 when average wages per head grew by 3.5pc on the year.
“This paints a strong picture for income growth in 2016, which will be helped by public sector pay rises, the increase in the minimum wage and the €600m of tax cuts in Budget 2016,” said Davy economist Conall Mac Coille.
Dr Sean Healy, of Social Justice Ireland, said to see poverty rising at a time when the economy is improving is of serious concern.
“It appears that the recovery is benefitting those who are better off, but not those on low or middle incomes. It is not acceptable that Government does not take the action required to dramatically reduce the numbers of people living in poverty. Ireland is not a poor country. It is possible for government to reduce poverty dramatically but it is not taking the actions required,” he said.
“The figures also show that a very substantial part of the hit since the crash has been taken by those living in poverty or close to the poverty line, and this is not acceptable for Irish society. It is not surprising that poverty is rising when one considers that this government has brought in five regressive budgets.”