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One in eight Irish children live in deprivation

There are fewer people currently at risk of poverty, however, and Joan Burton is pretty happy about that.

Updated 3.20pm

FIGURES FROM THE Central Statistics Office today (CSO) show that disposable income continues to drop and more people are living in deprivation.

In 2013, the median disposable income was €17,551, down from the previous year and a significant drop from the almost €21,000 a year in 2008.

According to the CSO the average disposable income in Irish households is now €21,106.

Director of Advocacy at Focus Ireland, Mike Allen, said today the his charity is working with many households that are struggling and “the harsh fact is they have not seen any green shoots of recovery – things are actually getting worse for them”.

The figures show enforced deprivation was experienced by more than one third of the population in 2013. Back in 2008, this rate was just 13.5%.

A person is considered to be living in deprivation if they fall into at least two of these categories:

  • Without heating at some stage in the last year
  • Unable to afford a morning, afternoon or evening out in the last fortnight
  • Unable to afford two pairs of strong shoes
  • Unable to afford a roast once a week
  • Unable to afford a meal with meat, chicken or fish every second day
  • Unable to afford new (not second-hand) clothes
  • Unable to afford a warm waterproof coat
  • Unable to afford to keep the home adequately warm
  • Unable to afford to replace any worn out furniture
  • Unable to afford to have family or friends for a drink or meal once a month
  • Unable to afford to buy presents for family or friends at least once a year

‘Scandalous’

Worryingly, the number of children living in consistent poverty has risen – meaning they are experiencing deprivation and are at risk of poverty – to almost 12%. This means that one in eight Irish children are “failing to get the start in life they are entitled to” Barnardos said today.

Source: child image via Shutterstock

The children’s charity said too many children are having to go without basic neccessities through no fault of their own or their parents.

CEO Fergus Finlay said:

This should break our hearts and force us to take decisive action. And even if you don’t care about what it means for children, think about what it means for the future of Ireland. These are the children who may well be the early school leavers, the ones who will live a life of dependency and alienation. We know enough about this by now to realise that if we don’t break this vicious cycle, its effects will last for generations.

In a strongly-worded statement today, Finlay said this was the result of poor decision-making by policymakers. There is nothing to suggest we are reversing this “horrifying trend”, according to him. We can do this, however, he said, by increasing child benefit, supporting lone parents, investing in universal services and adequately funding the Child and Family Agency.

“When are we ever going to be sufficiently ashamed to realise that we must?”

A ‘positive finding’

There was a drop in on category – the ‘at risk of poverty’ rate dropped from 16.5 in 2012 to 15.2%.

Commenting on the findings, Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton said this drop  is a “very positive finding”.

“This shows how the Government has protected low income households. As a result, Ireland will remain among the best performing countries in the EU in reducing poverty through social transfers,” she said. “This reflects the continuation of substantial investment in the social protection system and the maintenance of core weekly rates of welfare payments since this Government came into office.”

She noted the consistent poverty of 8.2%, which was also up on the previous year. The Tánaiste said she is confident that the actions of the government to increase employment and boost low and middle incomes will help to achieve the national poverty target.

“The greatest protection against poverty is having a job, and this is evident in the data, which shows the massive decline in consistent poverty if even one person in the household is in work.”

Read: One in five older Irish people live in deprivation>

Read: One third of Irish population forced to go without basic necessities>

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