herald

Monday 23 April 2018

Living standards soar but number of homeless is still on the rise

Emily Logan (left), chief of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, with Dermot Kavanagh and Niamh Randall of Simon Communities at the launch of Simon’s annual report. Photo Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie
Emily Logan (left), chief of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, with Dermot Kavanagh and Niamh Randall of Simon Communities at the launch of Simon’s annual report. Photo Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Standards of living have improved for most people in Ireland, according to a new study showing decreased deprivation levels and a rise in disposable income.

The findings were contained in the Central Statistics Office (CSO) Survey on Income and Living Conditions for 2016.

However, as the housing crisis continues, homelessness charity Simon Communities separately reported a 33pc increase in people seeking their help during 2017.

Overall, the CSO study found rates of deprivation dropped by 4.5pc and median disposable income was up almost €600 to €20,597 per household.

That's based on a calculation that takes into account household income, size and the number of dependants. It represents a 3pc rise on 2015.

In total just over one-in-five (21pc) experienced some level of deprivation in 2016.

Deprivation

Among issues considered when determining the deprivation rates were instances of people going without heating at some stage in the year (9.2pc); those unable to afford to replace worn-out furniture (21.1pc), and people unable to afford to buy presents for family or friends at least once a year (4.4pc).

People who experience two or more of 11 listed categories are considered to be experiencing enforced deprivation.

In 2016, 16.5pc were at risk of poverty, slightly down on the 2015 rate of 16.9pc.

The consistent poverty rate nationwide was 8.3pc, which the CSO said was not a statistically significant change on the 2015 figure of 8.7pc. It found no significant change to income distribution between 2015 and 2016.

Social Protection minister Regina Doherty welcomed the downward trend in poverty rates, saying basic deprivation is down from more than 30pc at its peak in 2013 to 21pc in 2016.

She put rises in incomes down to increased employment and higher earnings for people in work and said the economic recovery is reflected in the figures.

She also said that despite the improvements, the release of the data so close to Christmas is a reminder of the "difficult challenges and financial choices that many families and individuals continue to face".

Elsewhere, Simon Communities launched their annual report and said they worked with more than 11,000 people who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness across the country.

Spokeswoman Niamh Randall said 2017 has seen the ­housing and homelessness ­crisis continue to worsen, ­pointing to the 33pc increase in those seeking their help this year.

"This Christmas there will be at least 8,500 men, women and children trapped in emergency accommodation and many thousands more living with housing insecurity," she added.

The government has plans to ramp up the building of social housing units in 2018.

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