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Over 100,000 people who work in Ireland are still living in poverty

New figures have been released today by the CSO.

Image: Shutterstock/Champion studio

NEW FIGURES RELEASED by the Central Statistics Office have shown that just over one in six people in Ireland are at risk of poverty, and that 105,051 people living in poverty in Ireland are actually in employment.

The Annual Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) was published today, and showed that over a million people in Ireland experienced some form of deprivation in 2015, which can range from not being able to afford a roast each week to not being able to afford to heat your home.

While Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar welcomed the figures as a whole as conveying a ”wealthier and more equal country”, advocates from Social Justice Ireland said that poverty and deprivation figures “represent a huge challenge to government and society”.

90432466_90432466 Source: RollingNews.ie

The SILC is the State’s official source of data on household and individual income, as well as providing a summary of key poverty indicators. This full set of data is for 2015, and compares these figures to 2014.

The survey hails “statistically significant” increases in the annual rates of income which rose to an average of €19,772, which was 6% higher than last year.

The CSO deemed anyone to have an annual income of less than €12,000 to be at risk of poverty. When adjusted for inflation, 61% of people were below the mean income of €23,301.

The number of people at risk of poverty (16.9%) and in consistent poverty (8.7%) did not change significantly, however.

The figures also show that more than 750,000 people in Ireland live on less than €230 a week.

Ireland’s Gini co-efficient, which is an international benchmark for income equality (with the lower figure the better), recorded a score of 30.8%, down from 32% in 2014.

In terms of those at risk of poverty, half of these people experienced some form of deprivation in 2015.

Throughout the financial crash and beyond, figures of poverty have remained static with a large proportion of the population remaining at risk.

chart Graph showing poverty and deprivation rates by year. Source: CSO Ireland

Michelle Murphy, research and policy analyst at Social Justice Ireland, told TheJournal.ie that “despite the increases in income, there are still over 790,000 people living in poverty in Ireland and that is unacceptable”.

She highlighted the importance of social welfare in addressing poverty, adding “without social welfare payments, 46.3% of Ireland’s population would be living in poverty”. Murphy said that this underlying issue suggested a “deeply unequal distribution of income” in Ireland.

Also responding to the figures, CEO of poverty charity Turn2us Simon Hopkins said: “It is devastating that so many people are both living in poverty and vulnerable to it.”

St Vincent de Paul social policy officer Caroline Fahey said that significant progress would need to be made to tackle child poverty in particular, or too many children will continue to “spend their childhood going without basics like secure housing, healthy food and suitable clothing”.

Minister Leo Varadkar, however, said that the figures “demolish the argument made by some on the left that the gap between rich and poor is widening.”

These numbers prove that the economic recovery is taking hold, is having a positive impact on incomes and is reducing inequality.

Varadkar did admit, however, that the figures also show that “we have a long way to go.”

He said: “Consistent poverty remains much higher now than it was in 208 at the outset of the financial crisis. There are still too many people struggling to make ends meet.”

He concluded that the government would do its utmost to ensure that the economic recovery is experienced in all regions by all families, households and individuals.

Read: 750,000 people are living in poverty in Ireland – on under €218 a week

Read: FactCheck: Is Willie O’Dea right to say Ireland has the highest child poverty rate in the OECD?

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