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More Irish families being pushed into poverty and seeking advice

Two separate reports indicate that more and more Irish families are being pushed into poverty as record numbers contact advisory services seeking help.

THE EXTENT TO which Irish families are being affected by poverty has been laid out in two separate reports today.

major international report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has found that a growing number of Irish families are being pushed into poverty due to an over-dependence on benefits and the high cost of childcare.

The report – entitled Doing Better for Families – found that childcare costs can account for 40 per cent of the household budget in Ireland compared to 20 per cent in other countries.

The figures also show that 16.3 per cent of children now live in poverty in Ireland which is above the OECD average of 12.7 per cent.

The publication of the report comes on the same day that it has been revealed that record number of people in Ireland contacted the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) in the first three months of 2011.

Almost 9,500 people made contact with MABS, which is nearly 3,000 more than at the end of 2010, according to newly-released figures. Almost 6,000 of those who made contact needed further assistance.

The most common debt was a personal loan, the next a utility bill. Of the 2,633 people who spoke to MABS and had a mortgage, just 726 needed help with the mortgage.

MABS spokesman Michael Culloty told the Irish Examiner that most of the 40 per cent of new clients who had a mortgage seemed to be giving priority to their mortgage payments and the knock-on effect was that they could not service other debts.

The MABS quarterly figures also showed that 3,132 of the 5989 new clients were between the ages of 26 and 40 but that financial difficulties were affecting all age groups with 8 people aged between 15 and 18 getting in touch and 93 over 65s making contact.

Furthermore, the figures for the first quarter showed that 5,513 needed further help negotiating bill repayments.

A total of 476 people needed help through a special account facility and 2,696 had personal loans with financial institutions.

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