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'Significant gap': Lone parents and those with disabilities among the most deprived in Ireland

Lone parents and adults with a disability were worse off than other people of the same age.

Image: Shutterstock/realpeople

THERE IS A “significant gap” in the rate of deprivation experienced by vulnerable adults in Ireland than others here, a new study has found.

The report by Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) showed that, out of 11 EU countries which were studied, Ireland’s gap was the largest and increased the most during its time frame of 2004-2015.

The ESRI found that those including lone parents and adults with a disability were worse off than other people of the same age.

This gap exists even in countries with generous welfare systems and a low overall rate of deprivation. The study found that policies that reduce poverty among the general population don’t adequately address deprivation experienced by vulnerable groups.

The research measured poverty across 11 EU countries: Ireland, the UK, Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, France, Italy, Spain and Greece.

The research measured deprivation in three sets of two-year periods: the years of economic growth (2005-2006), recession (2008-2009) and recovery (2013-2014).

It found that:

  • In Ireland, the persistent deprivation rate is 26% higher among lone parents and 14% higher for adults with a disability than for others. In the UK, the gap is 23% and 11% respectively. Across the remaining nine countries, the average gap is 16% and 8%.
  • In Ireland and the UK, the persistent deprivation gap between vulnerable adults and other adults increased significantly over time. This did not happen in the other nine countries.

The study also found that lone parents and adults with a disability face barriers when trying to get work. The ESRI suggested improving access to affordable childcare, flexible work arrangements and protection of secondary benefits such as medical cards to make getting to work easier.

Dorothy Watson of the ESRI said that policies which successfully reduce poverty for the population as a whole are not enough to support vulnerable groups.

“Proactive steps are required to address the deprivation experienced by lone parents and adults with disabilities, and also to tackle the higher rate of child poverty associated with these households. Such interventions are particularly urgent in Ireland, as the data show that the deprivation gap is most pronounced here,” she said.

Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty said she expects to see further reductions in poverty from figures supplied to her by the CSO. However, she added that the concept of deprivation is complex.

She said: “As this report shows, poverty is not just about income. It is multidimensional and it is complex. So the actions we take to address poverty and social exclusion in Ireland must take account of this diversity and complexity.”

Read: Roma children living in ‘overcrowded houses with rats, damp and sewage’

Read: Has Ireland become a better place to live in recent years? Unpicking the ‘Wellbeing of the Nation’ >

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