Poverty in Ireland 2018 what does it look like, who is it affecting and how? Throughout this essay I will be discussing the nature and extent of poverty in Ireland with particular focus on children in poverty. In order to discuss the harsh reality of Children living in deprivation in Ireland, it is also important to examine its relationship to risk factors for poverty such as socio-demographic characteristics, which have been shown to be associated with a greater risk of living in poverty. I will be focusing on the definition, measurement and deprivation of poverty which is also associated with consistent poverty and at risk poverty groups in communities.
Let’s start by examining some key terms associated with Poverty. To define poverty in Ireland we must first discuss how people can be or are affected by Poverty, people live in poverty when their income and daily resources are so inadequate It precludes them from having a standard of living which is regarded by their society as a general living standard. This can lead to Social exclusion, defined as cumulative marginalization resulting from employment income poverty, social networks or it can also be linked to the individual’s decision making and quality of life. Poverty in employment is a very real and worrying statistic in Ireland, presently people are living from one pay check to the next with very little savings. This phenomenon of the working class poor is affecting a wide range of people in Ireland currently that would never have been in poverty before. There is an obvious rise in people in debt, homeless and children eating going without food. I plan to investigate this further by examining the links between poverty and exclusion especially concerning children in Ireland.
A term often used to describe people in the above circumstances of poverty is disadvantaged. The term disadvantaged can describe people in situations such as poverty or a group/ community experiencing circumstances or conditions less favourable to others in other locations or communities. Disadvantaged communities or people are most likely to be dealing with conditions causing them to be deprived of essential or desirable opportunities or possessions that are seen as minimum by the majority of Irish society. Deprivation can simply be explained as conditions that lead to poverty.
Disadvantaged communities often find themselves having to deal with Social exclusion. There are many causes of social exclusion in our society These include, among others, homelessness, mental illness, disadvantaged communities or ethnic groups, age, disability and race. To examine this further we need to analysis the causes and effects of Poverty in Ireland.
In Ireland, poverty data is collected by the Central Statistics Office, the CSO calculate the number of people in poverty by means of two identifiers Relative Income Poverty and Consistent Poverty to gain a comprehensive insight in to poverty in Ireland. Poverty figures published by the CSO in December 2017 showed one in nine children in Ireland continue to live in poverty. This is as a direct result of their parents being at risk of poverty, living in Deprivation or consistent poverty, displayed in the below information taken from the CSO website is the harsh reality of Irelands current poverty situation, 2016’s figures last modified on the CSO website on the 16th of November at 10:47 –
Income and Poverty Rates by Sex, Statistical Indicator and Year
At Risk of Poverty Rate (%) 16.5
Deprivation Rate (%) 21.0
Consistent Poverty Rate (%) 8.3
https://www.cso.ie/px/pxeirestat/Statire/SelectVarVal/saveselections.asp 20/11/2018 03:38
The ESRI, Economical Social Research Institute gathers information to measure poverty in Ireland. The information gathered from the ERSI helps inform government policies and legislation when addressing poverty. Social analysis and social inclusion has been a main focus in Ireland for many years two targets set by the Government to help tackle social policy and procedures in Ireland in recent years are the development of the “National Action Plan for Social Inclusion 2007-2016 :extended to 2018” and “Better outcomes, Brighter Futures 2014 for Children.”
“In recognition of the higher risks and life-long consequences of child poverty, a child specific target was set in the National Policy Framework for Children and Young People 2014-2020 (Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures) in 2014. The target is to lift over 70,000 children aged 0-17 years out of consistent poverty by 2020, a reduction of at least two-thirds on the 2011 level. This target will include reducing the higher consistent poverty risk for households with children as compared to non-child households”
“Department of Employment Affairs & Social Protection” (2018)
However, an interesting fact when looking at the current deprivation indicators in Ireland is that a number of the EU additional items that could be potential indicators of deprivation such as money to spend on one’s self; internet access; leisure activities; mobile telephone; housing and environment indicators are not listed on the deprivation list. It is therefore worth asking whether these indicators could be a useful addition to the Irish deprivation measure to properly ascertain the poverty levels currently affecting almost 140,000 children in Ireland.
Poverty isn’t decreasing if anything it is steadily on the rise with more and more people seeking housing and not been able to live week to week without seeking extra supports. One of the main causes of poverty in Ireland is long term unemployment, living on a low income paid through social welfare payments. Resulting in people not being able to participate in activities which are considered the norm for others in Irish society. Poverty can affect children at the most developmentally important stages of their lives resulting in them eating less food or cheaper and less nutritional meals this can lead to other health issues because their parents can’t afford medication.
Children living in poverty experience exclusion and deprivation on a daily basis and in may forms such as missing school trips, not having suitable clothing/footwear especially in winter and they often live in homes without adequate light or heat, they too often become homeless as a result of poverty. The stress of this can have an overwhelming effect on their education and mental health. Half of one parent families in Ireland live in deprivation unable to sufficiently heat their homes, purchase warm waterproof coats or shoes for their children. In advance of the 2018 Budget Barnardos CEO, Fergus Finlay said:
“one in nine children live in consistent poverty, over 3,000 children are currently homeless, thousands of children endure excessively long waits for medical assessment and treatment. We know that these challenges and barriers in early years massively impact a child’s development and potential in life. The Government must ensure quality services are available when and where they are needed – the lives of children hang in the balance.”
During the early 90’s Ireland was receiving grants from the EU to help address poverty. This lead to the establishment of Poabl. Pobal was established in 1992 between the Irish government and the EU to address poverty and local development programmes funded by Pobal through grants these include local development programmes, childcare programmes, early education, employment and labour activation programmes, social enterprises and social community programmes. To address area’s most in need of funding the government use the Pobal deprivation index map. This is a free geographical information system which provides a range of different views and functions using the Pobal map to highlight and analyse areas with high levels of affluence or disadvantage.
While working in the local communities, I have found this to be a very useful tool in assisting to ascertain area’s most in need of our Afterschool services. Our services are operated by the non-profit organisation I am currently employed by, through funding acquired from the Pobal Community Childcare Subvention scheme. This Programme is targeted to support parents on a low income and assists them in reducing childcare costs at participating community childcare services. It enables them to return to work or college that hopefully in turn aids their quality of living and financial circumstances.
The programme is aimed at supporting and caring for disadvantaged and vulnerable children. Research has proven that disadvantaged children benefit hugely from attending high quality childcare services such as ours. They are cared for in a warm, safe and loving environment, offered homework support, supplied a warm cooked meal and enjoy numerous activities including physical. I have found through research and it is my own personal opinion also that disadvantaged and vulnerable children benefit greatly from this holistic approach.
The Community Childcare Subvention (CCS) Programme is a childcare programme targeted to support parents on a low income to avail of reduced childcare costs at participating community childcare services. Research shows that disadvantaged children benefit most from access to quality early education and childcare. The Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) pays for a portion of the childcare costs for eligible children, with the parent paying the remainder.
https://www.pobal.ie/programmes/community-childcare-subvention/ 20/11/2018 05:42
To conclude following my research and after examining the current figures of poverty in Ireland. It is my opinion that there has been shocking little progress in Ireland in recent years in terms of child poverty and homelessness. Without the current social welfare payments and schemes such as CCS many more families would be living in constant deprivation and poverty. However, it is my opinion that current levels of support are insufficient to keep families and communities out of poverty.
One parent families living in rented accommodation are most at risk of been trapped in poverty with approx. 3,000 children found to be homeless in 2007. Poverty is not a state of mind it is a structural phenomenon caused by the society and economical system these children are living in. They do not wish to be deprived of quality education, basic essentials such as food and heat nor do they see themselves as disadvantaged. Humans tend to use Victimology to blame others for their situations but how can a child be held responsible or blamed for been disadvantaged.
Currently these children our most vulnerable are being profoundly and negatively affected by our society. If the root problems and structural influences were changed perhaps then these children could break the cycle and exit poverty. Furthermore, in a society that is heavily reliant on the working class in order to pay our state tax’s should we not be cherishing and protecting our children as they are our countries future. In order to move forward and lift whole communities and families out of poverty perhaps we need to be more realistic in our analysis of measuring poverty to begin with.