One in 10 households in the private rented sector is paying more that 60 per cent of its income on rent, with one in 20 spending three quarters on rent, a report published on Monday warns.
The National Social Monitor: European Edition, issued by the equality think tank Social Justice Ireland, says benefits from the improving economy "have been distributed in a grossly unequal fashion".
In seven countries across Europe, more people are struggling to make ends meet than before the crisis in 2007. The countries are Ireland, Croatia, Greece, Spain, Italy, Slovakia and France.
“Even in the most affluent European countries at least 30 per cent of people in the lowest income quartile experience difficulties getting by,” the report states.
Tenants in the private rented sector across Europe “are the hardest hit in terms of housing cost burden”.
“In Greece almost 84 per cent are spending over 40 per cent of their disposable income on housing costs with over a third spending over 75 per cent. While rates in Ireland are below the EU average it should be noted that large scale private renting is a relatively recent phenomenon for Ireland.
“Therefore it should be of concern that more than one in five tenants paying market rent in Ireland are paying over 40 per cent of their disposable income on housing, with almost one in 10 paying over 60 per cent and more than one in 20 paying 75 per cent.”
Substandard housing is a problem across Europe, the report finds. Drawing on Eurostat data throughout the report, it finds Cyprus, Portugal and Hungary have the highest proportion of households living in homes with, for example, leaking roofs, damp walls and floors, or rot.
Finland, Norway and Slovakia have the lowest proportions. In Ireland 12.6 per cent of the population – 611,982 people – were living in substandard conditions in 2017.
The report calls for more social and affordable housing, alongside a significant investment in affordable housing of all tenure types.
Irish greenhouse gas emissions have increased by 12.3 per cent since 1990, compared with reductions of up to 62.3 per cent in other EU states including Latvia.
“Emissions from [Irish] agriculture have increased annually since 2012 as a result of various agricultural policies that are entirely at odds with environmental policy since 2012.”
The report calls for an increase in the proportion of renewable energy resources used; “community based healthcare schemes” to address cost-based inequities in accessing healthcare; and greater investment in programmes to target children at risk of leaving education early.