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Rich and poor gap 'is getting wider'

THE gap between the rich and poor in Ireland is widening, a thinktank has warned.

Social Justice Ireland said the disposable income -- the money a person has after tax -- fell by 18.6pc over a year for the least well-off households.

By comparison, the group claimed it rose by 4.1pc for the most well-off.

Dr Sean Healy, who heads the organisation, said the CSO's 2010 Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC), the latest available, was examined for the organisation's most recent policy briefing.

The SILC outlines the income and living conditions of different types of households.

Social Justice Ireland calculated that the top 10pc of the population received almost 14 times more disposable income than the poorest 10pc.

"There is something profoundly wrong with Government decisions that produce this lop-sided distribution of income favouring the richest when Ireland's poor and middle-income people struggle to make ends meet in these extremely difficult times," Dr Healy said.


He said wages have fallen since 2009 and are projected to remain static for 2012, while taxes have risen and some social welfare rates have been cut.

He said that in 2010 the poorest category of households had a disposable income of €174.24 a week (€8,928 a year) while the richest had €2,369.53 a week (€123,547 a year).

The organisation said the income of the poorest category fell by 18.6pc in that single year while the income of the richest rose by 4.1pc.

Social Justice Ireland urged the Government to consider several initiatives to tackle the problem, including:

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• Assessing the impact on society's most vulnerable by implementing the EU/IMF deal.

• Changing the ratio of spending cuts to tax increases in further Budgets.

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