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One-in-10 of us can't afford to heat our homes


A homeless man makes his way up Dublin's Grafton Street in the early hours, looking for a place to bed down for the night.

A homeless man makes his way up Dublin's Grafton Street in the early hours, looking for a place to bed down for the night.

A homeless man makes his way up Dublin's Grafton Street in the early hours, looking for a place to bed down for the night.

The deprivation rate in Irish society has more than doubled since 2008, it has emerged.

Economic recession, wage-cutting and tax increases have had a significant impact on poverty rates, figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) have revealed.

The data has shown how over the last number of years people have become increasingly deprived of everything from adequate heating for their homes to proper clothing, due to decreasing incomes.

The percentage of the general population unable to afford to keep their homes adequately warm was 3.7pc in 2008, which increased to 10pc in 2013.

Socialising in the country has also been badly hit, with 11.1pc unable to afford a morning, afternoon or evening out in a fortnight in 2008 increasing to 25.1pc in 2013.

But people in the "at risk of poverty" bracket of income have suffered even greater hardship according to the Income and Living Conditions report.

In 2008, 3.4pc of people who were at risk of poverty could not afford two pairs of strong shoes, but that jumped to 10pc by 2013.

The CSO figures showed that 7.8pc in this bracket could not afford to keep their houses warm in 2008, but that had risen to 19.4pc in 2013.

Responding to the findings, Dr Sean Healy, who is the director of Social Justice Ireland, said that there were some 698,000 people still in poverty in Ireland.

Nearly one-in-seven people are in poverty and more than 211,000 of these are children.

And almost 140,000 children - or one-in-eight of all children living in Ireland - are living in consistent poverty.

"This is an indictment of Government policy and highlights its failure to protect the most vulnerable," Dr Healy said.

"Government did have choices. However, the choices it made resulted in 8.2pc of the population living in consistent poverty."

The CSO said that the general enforced deprivation rate, the overall percentage of people who suffered two or more kinds of enforced deprivation, has more than doubled - from 13.7pc in 2008 to 30.5pc in 2013. This means that in 2013, more than one million people could not afford the basics.

According to the statistics office, the consistent poverty rate also nearly doubled, increasing from 4.2pc to 8.2pc in the same period.

The nominal "at risk of poverty" threshold figure for disposable income for 2013 stood at €10,531 which was 60pc of the median disposable income of €17,551.

The median figure gives a more accurate representation of the disposable income available to people across the country as opposed to the average, which can be skewed by a smaller number of very high earners.

In 2013 the actual 'at risk of poverty rate' was 15.2pc compared with 16.5pc in 2012; but the CSO said that the change was "not statistically significant."

In 2008, the percentage for those at risk over poverty was 14.4pc.

An analysis by socio-demographic characteristics showed that those living in households with one adult and one or more children had the highest deprivation rate in 2013, at 63.2pc.

The figures come in the wake of recent anger over the increasing homeless crisis in the capital.

In December, homeless man Jonathan Corrie (43) was found dead near the Dail.

In November last year the council revealed that the number of people sleeping rough on the streets of Dublin had grown by over one fifth in the past year.

A count on November 11 identified 168 individuals as "rough sleepers", up from 139 in November 2013.

However, in early January just 67 rough sleepers were counted on the streets, a reduction of nearly half the numbers counted before Christmas.