Friday 23 August 2019

Families in poverty on the increase, even as wage hikes kick in

Poverty is on the increase - despite a general rise in pay
Poverty is on the increase - despite a general rise in pay

Colm Kelpie

The number of people suffering "enforced" deprivation fell last year, but more people were at risk of poverty.

Around 29pc of the population were in 'enforced' deprivation, which means they were unable to afford at least two basics, such as replacing worn-out furniture, an evening out, or heating - according to the CSO. That's roughly 1.3 million people, and compares with a rate of 30.5pc in 2013, and a low of 7.9pc in 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, however, suggested the possibility of improvement, with average weekly earnings increasing by 2.7pc to €688.80 by the end of September - the fastest pace since the recession began, one economist noted.

But Caroline Fahey, St Vincent de Paul social policy officer, said despite wage rises and the recovering economy, the numbers calling the body's services remains the same as last year.

"Not a whole lot has changed for the people that we assist, despite the economic recovery," she said.

"In spite of the fact that incomes are increasing and there are more people at work, the same people are experiencing poverty as before, so nearly 60pc of one-parent families are going without basics, and there's still a very high rate of child poverty," Ms Fahey said.

"We haven't seen that change. On the one hand, there's the recovery - but a lot are being left behind."

Irish Independent

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