Gary Gannon TD

There are now more than 671,000 people living in poverty – over 188,000 of them children

The sharp rise in the number of people living in poverty in Ireland highlights the increasing level of income inequality in this country, according to Social Democrats TD Gary Gannon.

The at risk of poverty rate, as measured by the Central Statistics Office, was 13.1 percent in 2022, a 1.5 percentage point increase on the 2021 rate.

Deputy Gannon, who is the party’s spokesperson on Social Welfare, said:

“The latest figures around poverty provide a worrying insight into the rising level of income inequality in Ireland. Social Justice Ireland now estimate there are now more than 671,000 people living in poverty – up more than 90,000 in a year.

“The number of children living in poverty in 2022 also rose by more than 24,000 to over 188,500. In addition, more than 143,000 older people are living in poverty – an increase of over 55,000 since 2021.

“This week, the Government announced a number of cost-of-living measures, all of which were one-off. I’ve repeatedly made the point that poverty is rarely a temporary situation for people, so one-off measures bring only brief respite.

“One-off measures will not address income inadequacy which, as the figures show, is widespread. Nor are they sufficient to insulate already-vulnerable households from more pressures around price increases.

“One of starker statistics is that over 133,000 people living in poverty actually have a job. This proves that the notion that employment is the best poverty-reliever is a nonsense – it is only the case if the job pays a decent wage. These 133,000 ‘working poor’ highlight the importance of a Living Wage, something the Government has promised but so far failed to deliver.

“Poverty cannot be eradicated without an appropriate level of income supports. We need a plan to increase core welfare rates towards the Minimum Essential Standard of Living. Permanent financial supports are the only thing that will mitigate income inequality for those at the bottom.

“The Government also missed an opportunity to tackle child poverty when it ignored the Qualified Child Increase this week, having raised it by a mere €2 in the Budget. This miserly amount falls well short of what is required and is not enough to support children or families on the brink of poverty. My party had proposed an additional €7 for children under 12 and an extra €12 for teenagers, bringing the weekly amounts to €47 and €60 per week respectively.

“The latest poverty figures are proof positive that the Government’s response to the cost-of-living crisis is just a sticking plaster solution that will result in increased levels of poverty and deprivation in 2023.”

February 23, 2023

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