70,000 more children below the poverty line now than 10 years ago
Almost 800,000 people in Ireland are living below the poverty line, St Vincent de Paul has warned.
This is despite the fact that Ireland is deemed the fifth richest country in the world, according to the International Monetary Fund's 2017 report.
At the launch of its pre-Budget submission, the charity said more than 16pc of Ireland's population are still living in poverty. It added that, although the economy is improving, 70,000 more children are growing up in poverty compared with 10 years ago. SVP is also receiving double the number of calls for assistance than it did in 2008.
"Poverty is not inevitable, and its eradication is possible, but it requires well-designed policies, resources and political will," said SVP president Kieran Stafford. "Poverty not only hurts the individual affected; it hurts communities, it hurts the economy, and it hurts society."
He added that the negative social and economic costs of the recession were still apparent to members of SVP across Ireland.
The charity's Paving a Pathway Out of Poverty submission contains 35 practical proposals to combat poverty in Ireland.
If implemented, SVP said it believed it would have a positive impact and help offer a way out of poverty for hundreds of thousands of people.
The charity said Budget 2019 needed to reflect a real commitment to tackling poverty in all its forms and required:
- An integrated approach to budgetary decisions.
- Ensuring all public expenditure is evaluated against the impact it has in reducing poverty.
- Prioritising investment in services and supports over tax cuts.
The five primary areas covered in SVP's pre-Budget submission are housing, education (including early years), income adequacy, energy and health.
Mr Stafford said the charity strongly believed that the measurement of Ireland's success should not just be based on economic growth.
"A functioning economy means having an adequate social protection floor that meets everyone's basic needs and where no one suffers enforced deprivation," he said.
"It means having access to decent jobs. It means having equal access to quality housing, education, childcare and healthcare."
SVP's head of social justice, Dr Tricia Keilthy, said that over the medium term the charity was calling on Government to publish, resource and implement the new National Action Plan for Social Inclusion.
"This means the fight against poverty needs to be prioritised on an ongoing basis, at all levels of Government, so that Ireland meets its commitments to eliminate poverty by 2030," Dr Keilthy said.