Discrimination pushes people to poverty - report

 

Discrimination and social exclusion play as important a role as lack of income in pushing people into poverty, a new report showed today.

The study - "Poverty and Inequality: Applying an Equality Dimension to Poverty Proofing" - was jointly produced by the Combat Poverty Agency and the Equality Authority.

It provides guidelines for Government agencies on how to "poverty-proof" policies and legislation at the review stage to gauge the impact they will have on poverty levels.

Publishing the report, the Minister for Social and Family Affairs, Ms Coughlan, said it was not enough to have legislation targeting inequality or social exclusion.

"All significant policy regardless of the focus must be considered in terms of their impact on poverty and inequality," she said.

The Minister said Government departments have been required since 1998 to "poverty proof" all major policies.

Ms Coughlan said certain groups, by virtue of their position in society, are greater risk of social exclusion. Included in this group are children and young people, women, older people, Travellers, people with disabilities, migrants and members of ethnic minority groups.

The Minister said changed economic circumstances made it even more important that the priorities be given to the poorest and the vulnerable in society.

However, report notes that child income support has fallen behind the rise in average incomes. The report states that the value of child support remains below the basic cost of rearing a child. Child supports do not take into account the fact that children become more expensive to support as they get older, the report said.

This in turn can lead to difficulties for young people in the education system who are socio-economically disadvantaged.

Defining poverty as "people whose income and resources are so inadequate as to preclude them from having a standard of living regarded as generally acceptable by Irish Society", the report said that up to 15 per cent of Irish households were "consistently poor".

Under the National Anti-Poverty Strategy the target it to reduce this to between 5 and 10 per cent of households by 2007.