Families getting caught in poverty trap

Most households dependent on unemployed persons or those on minimum wage do not have enough income to sustain a basic standard of living, new research has shown.

A new method of measuring deprivation draws on more refined techniques used in Britain and the US by assessing the affordability of a basic basket of good and services.

This basket includes day-to-day costs, such as food, clothing, fuel, childcare and phone bills, that were agreed by focus groups and experts. It excludes items such as debt repayment, pension contributions or bank charges.

The results show that weekly incomes for five out of six household types surveyed fell well short of a basic standard of living. The gap between the basic standard of living and weekly incomes was up to 150 Euros per week.

The report underlines a recent finding by the United Nations, which places Ireland near the bottom of a human poverty index of western countries.

The figures contained in the UN Development Programme’s Human Development Report for 2006, which put Ireland in 17th place in a poverty index of 18 OECD countries.

Meanwhile, a further report by the Central Statistics Office claimed that little could be done to alleviate the level of poverty in the 26 Counties.

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Social and Family Affairs Sean Crowe TD has called on the Dublin government to give up what he said was a “defeatist” attitude to the problem of widespread poverty.

The Dublin South-West TD said: “This Government has presided over this state, uninterrupted, for nearly a decade now, a period in which we have witnessed unprecedented economic growth and subsequent bulging state coffers. However it is a stark indictment of the government with that 7% of the population, nearly 300,000 people, are ranked as living in consistent poverty.

“With the PDs professing that inequality is actually healthy for society, it is no wonder that poverty levels are as high as they are. The Government continue to neglect the provision of adequate social protections which has lead to the increased social and economics marginalisation of those suffering from poverty.”

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© 2006 Irish Republican News