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16% of people in Ireland living below poverty line have jobs

A briefing document from Social Justice Ireland said the government needs to close the huge income divides in the country.

Image: money in hands image via Shutterstock

A REPORT FROM Social Justice Ireland today has shone a spotlight on the group of “working poor” people in the country and described the level of poverty nationally as “a major concern”.

The policy briefing states that there are more than 750,000 people living in poverty in Ireland. The most recent data on this shows 16 per cent of adults who have an income below the poverty line are actually employed.

The majority of those living in poverty, some 58%, are not connected to the labour market, indicating they are either retired, students, in caring roles, ill or disabled. Social Justice Ireland said jobs are not the key means of reducing poverty for this group.

The organisation also said social welfare is “of critical importance” because the latest CSO figures indicate that without these payments, more than half of Ireland’s population would be living in poverty.

Overall, children represent one quarter of Ireland’s poor with one in five children living in households with incomes below the poverty line.

The definition of poverty used for this report was that of the National Anti-Poverty Strategy which is as follows:

People are living in poverty if their income and resources (material, cultural and social_ are so inadequate as to preclude them from having a standard of living that is regarded as acceptable by Irish society generally. As a result of inadequate income and resources, people may be excluded and marginalised from participating in activities that are considered the norm for other people in society.

This policy briefing also outlines the problem of income inequality in Ireland. Overall the share of the top 10% is more than eight times the share of the bottom 10%. The richest 10% of households received 24% of the total disposable income while the poorest 10% of households received just 3%.

Social Justice Ireland said that if the government wishes to address and close income divides, future policy must priorities those at the bottom. It called on the government to recognise the problem of the “working poor” and recommended a system whereby tax credits would be refundable to address the situation of households in poverty which are headed by a person with a job.

The organisation made a number of recommendations to address the problem, including increasing social welfare payments in the next Budget, adopting targets aimed at reducing poverty for vulnerable groups and introducing a basic income system.

Read the policy briefing in full>

Read: Poor people in Europe forced to choose between heating and eating>

Read: Over 232,000 children in Ireland are living in poverty>

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