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Poorest families' income slashed by 20pc in a year

IRELAND'S rich are getting richer and the poor have had their income slashed by almost 20pc in just one year.

Social Justice Ireland has calculated that the poorest families in the country had 18.6pc of their spending power wiped out.

But the richest people in the country have seen their bank balances boosted by 4.1pc.

The top 10pc of the population receive 14 times the income earned by the poorest 10pc.

Social Justice Ireland has carried out a detailed analysis of the EU Social Inclusion Living Conditions survey in 2010 and published it in March.

The disposable income in this context "is the income one has after taxes paid and social welfare received".

Social Justice Ireland director Sean Healy said the Government's decisions have crippled families on lower incomes while favouring the rich.

"There is something profoundly wrong with Government decisions that produce this lopsided distribution of income favouring the richest when Ireland's poor and middle-income people struggle to make ends meet in these extremely difficult times," he said.

Mr Healy, an SMA priest, said the Government's emphasis on cuts rather than broadening the tax base was unjust and unnecessary.

"Decisions have been taken that have seriously damaged Ireland's most vulnerable people, that place a disproportionate burden on their shoulders, and seriously damage the social infrastructure on which they depend," he said.

"The top 10pc of the population receives almost 14 times more disposable income than the poorest 10pc receive (28.5pc compared to 2.06pc).

"It was eight times more in 1980."



danger

"The Government is facing a very difficult situation but there is a real danger that the policies to deal with it are going to produce a series of worse divisions in Ireland, where the vulnerable are bearing an unfair proportion of the hit."

Over the past two years, Social Justice Ireland has outlined how the Government's borrowing reduction target could be reached without the vulnerable taking the major part of the hit.

"The Government does have options but it appears that it does not have the protection of the vulnerable as one of its major priorities," Mr Healy said.

"It may have it in rhetoric but it certainly does not have it in practice."

clairemurphy@herald.ie