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Disposable income in poor households falls 18 per cent

Meanwhile, the income of the richest households rose by 4 per cent, according to new data from Social Justice Ireland.

THE INCOME OF Ireland’s poorest households fell by more than 18 per cent in one year – while the income of the richest households rose by 4 per cent, Social Justice Ireland said today.

Its publication, Poverty and Income Distribution, looks at how Ireland’s income distribution has changed over the past 30 years.


Disposable income is the income one has after taxes paid and social welfare received and SJI said that the top 10 per cent of the population receives almost 14 times more disposable income than the poorest 10 per cent receive (28.5 per cent compared to 2.06 per cent).

In 1980, this figure was eight times more.

Dr Seán Healy, Director of Social Justice Ireland said:

The income of Ireland’s poorest households fell by more than 18 per cent in a single year while the income of the richest rose by more than 4 per cent.  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.


The Policy Briefing goes on to point out that economic growth is sluggish at best with projections for the coming years consistently being revised downwards.

It adds that unemployment is rising, while employment fell in the first quarter of 2012.

Even though the poverty line fell by over 10 per cent from €12,064 to €10,831 the numbers in poverty increased, while over 700,000 people are at risk of poverty.

Over 200,000 children in Ireland are living in poverty, a figure which is up by 35,000 in three years. Meanwhile, the document states that almost 120,000 people with a job in Ireland are at risk of poverty – these are described as “the working poor”.

Action required

Social Justice Ireland sets out a number of measures that it believes the Government and policy-makers should implement.

These include:

  • Acknowledge that Ireland has an on-going poverty problem.
  • Assess the impact on society’s most vulnerable people of any proposed policy initiatives aimed at achieving the fiscal adjustments required by the EU/IMF bailout and the Government’s multi-year budgetary plan.
  • Change the ratio of expenditure cuts to tax increases in forthcoming budgets. Tax increases should account for two thirds of the required fiscal adjustment.
  • Examine and support viable, alternative policy options aimed at giving priority to protecting vulnerable sectors of society.
  • Provide substantial new measures to address long-term unemployment. This should include programmes aimed at re-training and re-skilling those at highest risk.

The document says that the problem of the ’working poor’ needs to be recognised, and that tax credits should be made refundable.

It says that the problems of poverty among migrants should also be acknowledged, and policies should be adopted to assist this group. “In addressing this issue also reform and increase the ‘direct provision’ allowances paid to asylum seekers,” said Social Justice Ireland.

Read: Consumers relying on credit cards to pay household bills – survey>

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