SVP warn ‘tsunami’ of Dublin families facing poverty as prices rise by 7.8%

by Rose Barrett
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Rose Barrett

The Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) has expressed significant concern for families “already on the brink” as prices rise by 7.8% in May, the highest annual increase recorded in almost 38 years.

Confirmed by the latest Consumer Price Index data from the CSO for May 2022, SVP also confirm the society has received in excess of 78,000 calls for help this year – a 20% increase on last year.

“From our volunteers’ work across Dublin communities,” said a spokesperson for the SVP, “We know countless examples of families are unable to heat their homes or feed and care for their families.  The cost-of-living measures provided so far have helped and given people temporary relief. But people on low and fixed incomes were already at the brink – battling a rising tide of high rents, growing bills, often juggling health conditions and caring responsibilities.”

Dr Tricia Keilthy, SVP Head of Social Justice said; “Data from the ESRI and Central Bank clearly shows the disproportionate impact of rising prices on low-income households. 

“It is critical,” she said, “That the upcoming Budget directs resources towards people on low and fixed incomes, otherwise more people will be pulled into poverty and those already struggling to get by, will be pushed even further into hardship.”

Frank Sexton, SVP Area President for D15, states that whilst the society has not yet been hit with “an avalanche of further requests, it is anticipated.”

“The real impact of the rising cost of fuel and heating hasn’t hit Dublin households yet. We are in the summer season and not using high levels of electricity or heating at the moment.”

But he warned: “The tsunami will come in the autumn with shorter days and longer need for light, electricity and heating. That will occur in the lead up to the Budget when families will have experienced a major shock. Families may be aware of the increase in heating and electricity, but they won’t feel it until they are hit with a bang in the autumn.”

He continued: “Indications from Europe are that we simply don’t know when the spike in energy costs is going to stabilise; we have to hope that some kind of stabilisation in energy costs will happen soon – otherwise, this government is going to have a major challenge at Budget time.”

Mr Sexton noted the society get a variety of calls from families to cover their weekly shopping costs, with the average shopping bill having increased by at least €20 per week.

“That is very significant for a family dependant on social welfare or low income. There are lots of Dublin families not dependant on social welfare, but living on fixed low incomes. They are often women or men living alone, separated/abandoned by their partners, and struggling to cover the mortgage on a single income. They’re especially vulnerable with the banks pressurising them for payments; the banks can be slow to re-schedule or revise mortgage payment terms.

“Very often, these single parents or homeowners are just above the threshold for a medical card,” added Mr Sexton. “Family bills, medical expenses, school contributions and education fees can be difficult to deal with. 

“This is the cohort of people we tend to forget about, working families caught in the poverty trap.”

However, Dr Tricia Keilthy called on the government to be pro-active and increase social welfare rates ahead of inflation. “This is the only way to protect people. This should be a first step in a wider plan to strengthen our social protection system, making it more resilient to economic shocks and allowing people to live with dignity.”

Contact 01 855 0022 or go to svp.ie to make an application. “You will get a very prompt response,” assured Mr Sexton as calls are logged and responded to within an average 12 hours. “We at the SVP are there to help,” he concluded.

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