More households at risk of poverty

Tue, Mar 27, 2012, 01:00

The number of households at risk of poverty has risen to almost 16 per cent, it emerged today.

Latest figures show another 6.2 per cent were in consistent poverty in 2010 - no change from a year earlier.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) revealed the gap between rich and poor grew over 2009 and 2010 - with the average income of high earners some 5.5 times that of those in the lowest income group. The ratio was 4.3 a year earlier.

However its survey on income and living conditions in Ireland found the threshold for identifying those at risk of poverty fell by more than 10 per cent - from €12,064 in 2009 to €10,831 in 2010.

“Although there was a decrease in the at risk of poverty threshold of more than 10 per cent, the at risk of poverty rate at state level rose from 14.1 per cent in 2009 to 15.8 per cent in 2010,” the CSO said.

Fr Sean Healy, of Social Justice Ireland (SJI), said there was an alarming rise in the rates of child poverty.

The CSO said children remained the most exposed age group living consistent poverty, a rate of 8.1 per cent, while another one in five at risk of poverty compared to one in ten of the elderly population.

For a single parent with children the figure was 20.5 per cent - down from 35.5 per cent a year earlier.

“There is a real strong message to Government here,” Fr Healy said. “It needs to take a serious look at what is actually happening in the decisions it is taking because it is quite clear that even though incomes are falling across the system and poverty lines are falling, poor and vulnerable people are taking a disproportionate hit in the adjustments that is taking place.”

The CSO found the numbers of working age (18-64) who were almost on the breadline had increased from 13 per cent in 2009 to 15.3 per cent.

The  figures also showed 22.7 per cent of all people were in arrears when paying for one or more items or services in 2010, with 7.2 per cent behind on rent or mortgage payments. The numbers jumped to almost 52 per cent and 24 per cent for those in consistent poverty.

PA