Poverty hits 272,000 this Christmas as boom leaves them behind, claims FF
More than a quarter of a million people face Christmas living in "consistent poverty", which means they subsist on 60pc of the average income.
Fianna Fáil welfare spokesman Willie O'Dea said new statistics show that despite full employment and rising incomes, 272,000 people are being "left behind."
So-called "consistent poverty" is the Government's own recognised benchmark for poverty. It is set at a threshold of 60pc of the median income in the country and also assesses a person's ability to buy a series of items and services most citizens take for granted.
The Limerick TD said the latest figures are a matter of serious concern and suggest the Government is not protecting the most vulnerable of its citizens.
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"Fine Gael has been in government for almost a decade and it is clear their policies have not delivered shared equality and prosperity," Mr O'Dea said.
Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty confirmed the current rate of "consistent poverty" is put at 5.6pc of the population, amounting to 272,000 people. But she said the Government wants to reduce this to 2pc by 2020.
Ms Doherty said this target appears "challenging". But she said the latest figure was based on 2018 data and she expected the figures for 2019 and 2020 will show an improvement and work will continue to spread the benefits of economic recovery.
But Mr O'Dea said the figures were compounded by the 10,000 people who are depending on emergency accommodation this Christmas, adding that almost 4,000 of these are children. He said the Taoiseach had promised the people "a Republic of Opportunity" when he was elected.