More than 100,000 people with jobs living in poverty, says report

Social Justice Ireland report says number of ‘working poor’ rising despite economic growth

One in six people in Ireland are living below the poverty line, while more than 100,000 people with jobs live in poverty, a new report has revealed.

The number of "working poor" – defined as people with jobs who are still in poverty – has continued to rise since 2009 despite economic recovery and growth, Social Justice Ireland said in its Poverty Focus 2018 report.

A total of 780,000 people live in poverty today and of these, more than a quarter are children. This means 16.5 per cent of the Irish population lives below the 60 per cent median income poverty line, the report said.

A person is defined as living in poverty if their income and resources are so inadequate as to preclude them from having a standard of living that is regarded as acceptable by Irish society. Any adult earning €249.55 a week or less, or €13,022 or less annually, is counted as being at risk of poverty.

Female workers; young workers; those in retail, hotels and security sectors; single parents and those on temporary contracts, are most likely to be on low pay.

More than 14 per cent of people on home duties (including care for children or the elderly) live in poverty while 13.3 per cent of people in employment also face poverty.

Social Justice Ireland says the Government should begin to address the problem of working poor by making tax credits refundable.

Speaking at the launch of the report, analyst Eamon Murphy targeted employers for “availing of precarious employment contracts and low pay”.

“Who is going to take responsibility for ensuring a job is always a route out of poverty, not into it? That should surely be the most basic function of our Government.”

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak is an Irish Times reporter and cohost of the In the News podcast