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The average household disposable income is now €51,458, according to the CSO

Society of St Vincent de Paul welcomed the fall in consistent poverty but said the downward trend will be reversed due to the failure of budget 2020.

DESPITE A SMALL decrease in those at risk of poverty in 2018 concerns have been raised following today’s release of The Survey on Income and Living Conditions – the official source for data on household and individual income in Ireland.

Some 14% of households in Ireland were at risk of poverty in 2018, according to newly released data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO). 

The survey found that those defined as at risk of poverty, whose income was less than 60% of the national average, was 14% compared with 15.7% in 2017. 

The survey also examines those living in enforced deprivation, which is defined by several indicators, including keeping the house warm and buying presents for family or friends at least once a year.

The percentage of those living in enforced deprivation was 18.8% – down from 21% in 2016.

The figures show that the rate of those living in “consistent poverty” in Ireland – which includes those experiencing enforced deprivation and those at risk of poverty – was 5.6%, a decrease from 2017′s figure of 6.7%.  

By comparison, the CSO data also shows that average annual household disposable income was €51,458 – an increase of 6.2% from 2017. 

It also found that median disposable income increased by 9.6% to €22,872 per person in 2017, a rise in income that Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Regina Doherty welcomed, saying the increase was “no accident”. 

“We are determined to build on today’s progress. Soon, I will be publishing a Social Inclusion Strategy which will set out a roadmap and targets for the next few years as we build a fairer and more equal Ireland for all,” O’Doherty said. 

‘Sad reality’

Research and policy analyst with Social Justice Ireland, Michelle Murphy said the government knows how important social welfare payments are when it comes to addressing poverty which is why it “makes it all the more shocking that they chose to ignore them in Budget 2020″. 

“Increases in welfare payments and in the national minimum wage have contributed to modest improvements in poverty and deprivation rates, but the rest of society is now moving ahead with the recent return to earnings growth. This means the government’s decision not to increase core welfare rates and the minimum wage in Budget 2020 will inevitably reverse any gains that these vulnerable people have seen in recent years,” Murphy said. 

The Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) welcomed the fall in consistent poverty but said the downward trend will be reversed due to the failure of Budget 2020. 

The charity expects to receive more than 50,000 calls from families this winter struggling to afford the basics.

“Many households will see little or no benefit from Budget 2020, so the sad reality is that we expect to see an increase in calls next year as people are left struggling, even more, when the cost of living increases,” SVP national president, Kieran Stafford said. 

For a rich country like Ireland, it is unacceptable that so many people are going without basics. So far this week, our regional offices have taken over 5,000 calls from families struggling to heat their homes and put food on the table. For many families, one of the biggest drivers of poverty is housing costs.

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