36% of single parents facing poverty

The latest figures on Irish living conditions show Irish incomes have risen by 6.2% overall

36% of single parents facing poverty

File photo | Image: Niall Carson / PA Archive/Press Association Images

New figures have revealed that more than more than a third of single parent families in Ireland are at risk of poverty.

The Central Statistics Office Survey on Income and Living Conditions for 2015 showed incomes in Ireland rose by 6.2% overall.

The Survey is the official source of data relating to income and living conditions in Ireland.

According to the figures, nearly 17% of Irish people were at risk of poverty - with the figure for lone-parent families at 36.2%.

Deprivation

Over a quarter of Irish people are experiencing ‘enforced deprivation’ - defined as being unable to afford two or more ‘basics’ such as heating, essential clothing or a meal with meat, chicken or fish every second day. The figure was at a low of 11.8% in 2007.

57.9% of single parent families are experiencing enforced deprivation.

The ‘consistent poverty rate’ which includes people defined as both at risk of poverty and experiencing enforced deprivation, was 8.7%.

In 2008 just 6% of people had to do without heating during the year - a figure that had more than doubled by 2015. Nearly one in ten people said they were not able to consistently keep their home adequately warm.

The chief executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance, Tanya Ward said authorities must “urgently increase the speed of our national response on child poverty.”

“Poverty is a blight on childhood and prevents children from reaching their full potential,” she said. “We’ve heard stories through our own work of children stealing food because they are going hungry or not having a warm coat in winter weather.

“That is an outrage in the Ireland of 2017.”

She warned that many families are struggling to survive with rising rents, bills, personal debt, homelessness and food poverty - adding that children living in direct provision, traveller and homeless children at particular risk of poverty are not reflected in today’s figures.

Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures

“We will continue to support the Government in its ambitious plan to lift 97,000 children out of poverty by 2020,” she said.

“Child poverty should also be a key focus of Brexit negotiations to ensure that new swaths of families are not plunged further into poverty.”

In 2008 just 6% of people had to do without heating during the year - a figure that had more than doubled by 2015. Nearly one in ten people said they were not able to consistently keep their home adequately warm.

The figures show that those with a degree were almost four times less likely to be at risk of poverty than those who finished their education at Leaving Cert level.

The median disposable income among men was 3.7% higher than among women at €20,014 compared to €19,292.

'A national scandal'

Children's charity Barnardos said the continued disimprovement in child poverty rates is "distressing".

Barnardos CEO Fergus Finaly said: "This is not acceptable.

"When you think about what these figures mean, it is scandalous. It means that two children in every classroom are living without access to basic necessities through no fault of their own. They are going without good shoes, or warm jackets to keep the cold out. They’re often going without nutritious meals, and they’re living in substandard housing often without heat." 

Head of Advocacy at Barnardos June Tinsley said the figures were "alarming".

"It is frustrating that more is not being done to improve the lives of these children", she said in a statement. “We need to start seeing the children behind these figures, and we need policy makers to urgently intervene."

In a statement welcoming the release from the CSO, Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar said Ireland is "on the right path" as a country.

"My ambition is to secure a place for Ireland in the top tier of countries when it comes to reducing poverty," he added.