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Nearly 16% of Irish households at risk of poverty last year while disposable income increased

New CSO data shows that the average annual household disposable income was €48,476 in 2017.

Image: Shutterstock/Marian Weyo

DESPITE A SMALL decrease in those at risk of poverty in 2017 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. 

Nearly 16% of households in Ireland were at risk of poverty in 2017, according to the newly released data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO). 

The survey has found that those defined as at risk of poverty, whose income was less than 60% of the national median, was 15.7% compared with 16.2% in 2016.

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.

Today’s survey notes that the most common types of deprivation experienced by Irish households were an inability to afford to replace worn out furniture, being able to afford to have family or friends for a drink or a meal once a month, and to afford a morning, afternoon or evening out in the last fortnight.

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 6.7%, a decrease from 2016′s figure of 8.2%.  

By comparison, the CSO data also shows that average annual household disposable income was €48,476 – an increase of 4.7% from 2016. 

It also found that median disposable income increased by 2.6% to €20,869 per person in 2017, a rise in income that Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Regina Doherty TD welcomed, saying the increase was “due to both increased employment and higher earnings for those at work.”

‘Grave concern’

Eamon Murphy, Economic and Social Analyst with Social Justice Ireland(SJI), has said, however, that “it is extremely worrying that despite record levels of employment and Ireland having one of the fastest growing economies in Europe, there is little relief for the working poor.”

“There has been little change in the number of people in employment who are at risk of poverty – 109,000 people with jobs are living in poverty.”

In response to today’s survey, SJI has laid out a number of policy proposals for addressing income inequality and reducing poverty rates.

These include equity of social welfare rates and setting a goal of eliminating poverty in the course of a single five-year Dáil term.

Charity Saint Vincent de Paul also raised concerns today at the high level of parents children still facing poverty and deprivation in Ireland, despite “some modest improvement in poverty rates.”

“This reflects the experience of the SVP, which is receiving an average of 1,000 calls for help every day from worried families in the run up to Christmas,” the charity said in a statement today. 

It said that the situation people in rented accommodation find themselves in remains a “grave concern.”

“Many of the people we visit are paying high rents to live in substandard accommodation, often in a bad state of repair with poor heating and insulation because they have no alternative,” the charity has said. 

Some Housing Assistance Payment tenants are paying top-ups to their landlords, which can be unsustainable in the long run, leaving families vulnerable to becoming homeless.  

“The housing crisis is a scandal that continues to impact on every aspect of people’s lives.”

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