Too many households struggling to make ends meet claims SVP

by Rachel Cunningham
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The Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) believes too many households are struggling to make ends meet due to the scale of the cost-of-living crisis.    

The comment comes in response to the latest data from the Survey of Income and Living Conditions, published on March 7.  

The charitable organisation stated that the at risk of poverty rate, based on median incomes, shows that just over 10 per cent of the population were at risk of poverty but this would have been 13 per cent without the implementation of temporary cost-of-living measures. 

The temporary measures supported households incomes, meaning fewer people had incomes below the poverty line, but this has not translated into an easing of financial difficulties as the data shows deprivation has risen. 

The scale of the cost-of-living crisis means households continue to have to cut back on essentials they simply can’t afford, according to SVP.

The figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show that just over 913,000 people were experiencing deprivation in 2023, increasing from 16.6 per cent in 2022 to 17.3 oer cent in 2023.  

In addition, 6.4 per cent of households had great difficulty making ends meet in 2023, compared to 5.5 per cent in 2022. 

This rises to 17.9 per cent for single parent households, while one in five single parent families have gone into debt to meet ordinary living expenses in 2023. 

Almost half of calls to SVP comes from one parent families and overall calls were up 10 per cent compared to 2022. 

The CSO data shows the highest levels of deprivation for people out of work due to illness or disability (44.7 per cent), single parent families (41.4 per cent), those who are unemployed (37.8 per cent) and renters (36.5 per cent). 

Over one in five children in the state are now living in enforced deprivation (21.4 per cent). 

SVP has highlighted that some of the most marginalised groups in Irish society, including those living in Direct Provision, emergency accommodation and members of the Travelling community, are not counted in official poverty statistics. 

“This data must send a clear message to government to redouble their efforts to tackle growing deprivation in our communities,” said SVP Head of Social Justice, Tricia Keilthy. “Temporary measures have helped protect people from income poverty, but we must ensure that this level of support against rising living costs becomes permanent so that it has  a sustained impact on deprivation rates and living standards. 

“Ensuring minimum wages and social welfare rates are benchmarked against the cost of a minimum standard of living and investment in services like housing, education and childcare is critical so that people can meet their basic needs.”

“Nearly 30,000 people called SVP for the first time in 2023 and many of these people were working but unable to meet the costs of basics,” said SVP Chair of the National Social Justice Committee, Nessan Vaughen.

“The high cost of housing, energy, childcare and transport is pushing people to the brink and work is increasingly not a route out of poverty. 

“Decent pay and conditions for workers and a strong system of quality public services is needed to make sure work pays and provides pathways to good jobs for those who are able to work.” 

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