Fintan O’Toole: Poverty is an expensive luxury we can no longer afford

Why fund the consequences of poverty instead of investing in its outright elimination?

Fintan O’Toole: If I suggested that the State should spend an extra €50 billion over the next decade to eliminate consistent poverty, I would be laughed at. But we will spend at least that on the fiscal consequences of deprivation. Photograph: Tom Honan

Fintan O’Toole: If I suggested that the State should spend an extra €50 billion over the next decade to eliminate consistent poverty, I would be laughed at. But we will spend at least that on the fiscal consequences of deprivation. Photograph: Tom Honan

Poverty is a very expensive luxury. It costs the Irish public an awful lot of money to sustain a system in which, at any given time over the last decade, about one family in every seven has been living with deprivation.

Year after year, €4.5 billion of public money – €1 in every €20 collected by the State from taxes and social insurance – is used to deal with the many ways poverty damages lives.

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