The Taoiseach has rejected a Barnardos survey showing that 10% of Irish families have used a food bank in the last year.
Speaking on his way into Cabinet this morning, Leo Varadkar said he “would wonder about the scientific basis” of the survey, published by the children’s charity last week.
The research showed that nearly one-third of parents have skipped meals or reduced portion sizes to feed their children, while the number of families who have used a food bank has doubled since last year.
It was carried out by Coyne Research, which interviewed a nationally representative sample of 1,000 adults last October.
‘I’m not sure that figure is correct’
The Taoiseach has rejected a survey showing that 10% of Irish families have used a food bank in the last year. pic.twitter.com/BsUZ25I4C5
— NewstalkFM (@NewstalkFM) February 14, 2023
“I did see that survey – we’ll certainly take it into consideration,” Mr Varadkar told reporters outside Government Buildings.
“I would wonder about the scientific basis of that survey. One-in-ten families using food banks would be over 200,000 families using food banks – I’m not sure that is correct.
“When I read the survey, I saw that most people who were asked to participate in the survey didn’t respond, so I’m not sure if that figure is correct.”
"Not the point"
The Taoiseach noted that, regardless of the survey, “nobody doubts that there has been an increase in the number of families struggling to make ends meet”.
“We had seen poverty fall year-on-year in Ireland for a number of years and because of the cost-of-living crisis, that has gone backwards and that is a big problem,” he said.
He said Government can “help people in different ways” and insisted that the recent minimum wage increase, tax reductions and reductions in the cost of childcare and public transport have “helped a lot”.
“Notwithstanding all of that, it is very clear to me that a lot of families are struggling,” he said.
“A lot of people on social welfare and pensions are struggling too because [while] in a lot of cases, the increases in income, tax reductions and increases in welfare have been enough to meet inflation, which is running at about 7% or 8%, that isn’t true for everyone.
“That is why we are going to have to have some targeted measures that particularly help those who need it the most – like pensioners, like people on social welfare payments and also working families.”
In the wake of the survey being released last week, People Before Profit called for an emergency budget to address the “absolutely shocking level of poverty” families in Ireland are now facing.
Richard Boyd Barrett said the Government needed to immediately introduce price controls on basic goods and introduce increases to pension, wage and welfare rates to “at least keep pace with inflation”.
Richard Boyd Barrett calls for price caps on basic goods and services with families in Ireland facing ‘absolutely shocking levels of poverty’. pic.twitter.com/LC9cpg7m3U
— NewstalkFM (@NewstalkFM) February 8, 2023
The Taoiseach also confirmed that people would not be faced with a 'cliff edge' in terms of financial supports being removed - noting that the cost-of-living remains very high.
He noted, however, that the measures put in place to assist people with the cost-of-living "can't be done forever".
With reporting from Aoife Kearns at Government Buildings.