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CSO: 8.1% of children in Ireland live in consistent poverty

The scale of poverty in Ireland is “far too high”, say activists.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/Rollingnews.ie

NEW FIGURES FROM the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show that those defined as ‘at risk of poverty’ (i.e. those whose income was less than 60% of the national median) was 12.8% of the population last year, down from 14% in 2018.

Those most at risk of poverty were people who were out of work due to illness or disability (37.5%) and unemployed people (35.4%) – that’s compared people defined as being at work (4.6%). 

The data also highlights how average annual household disposable income rose to €43,552, an increase of 1.6% on the 2018 figure of €42,865. 

Despite that small decrease in those at risk of poverty in 2019, concerns have been raised following today’s release of the Survey on Income and Living Conditions from the CSO. 

Director of Social Justice Ireland Dr Seán Healy said while he welcomes the improvement in poverty rates, the scale of poverty is “far too high”.

He said: 

Despite wage growth, increased employment and very high rates of economic growth last year, these figures show that a significant proportion of the population is still living in very difficult circumstances.”

Social Justice Ireland 

Dr Tricia Keilthy, head of social justice at St Vincent de Paul, said there was some some progress between 2016 and 2017 when 25,000 children were lifted out of poverty.

However, she said with less significant figures this year, Ireland is seeing “a reversal of a positive trend which is very concerning”.

“Child poverty must be tackled as it can negatively affect the entire life course of a child, limiting opportunities and making it more difficult or them to realise their full emotional, educational social and economic potential.

“Now more than ever, with the pandemic disproportionately impacting low income families, it is essential that child poverty is held as a political priority across Government departments and throughout the political system,” said Keilthy.  

SVP also noted, “Those living in Direct Provision, emergency accommodation and members of the Travelling community are not counted in official poverty statistics.” 

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The survey also examined those living in enforced deprivation, which is defined by several indicators, including having the means to keep the house warm and buy presents for family or friends at least once a year.

The percentage of those living in enforced deprivation was 5.5% – down from 5.6% in 2018.

The survey notes that the most common types of deprivation experienced by Irish households were an inability to afford to replace worn out furniture, being unable to afford to have family or friends for a drink or a meal once a month, and not having the money for a morning, afternoon or evening out in the last fortnight. 

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Consistent poverty

The rate of consistent poverty among children in 2019 stood at 8.1%, this compares to 5.1% for adults aged 18-64 and 2.3% for those over the age of 65. 

The consistent poverty measure is defined as people who are both at risk of poverty and experiencing enforced deprivation.

Just over 13% of people living in rented accommodation were found to be living in consistent poverty compared to 1.8% of those living in owner-occupied accommodation. 

The survey found that household disposable income increased depending on the level of education of the head of the household. 

When the head of household had an educational attainment of primary level or below, the nominal median household disposable income was €26,527, compared with €66,811 for those with a third-level degree or above. 

Households with three or more people at work had the highest nominal median household disposable income  – €95,613 – compared to €24,173 for households where one person worked.       

Clarification: The headline has been changed as the original referred to 200,000 children in consistent poverty, rather than ‘in poverty’ as stated by Social Justice Ireland. The figure for consistent poverty is 8.1% of the 0-17 population (which puts about 100,000 children in that category).                              

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