New data highlights strong performance of Social Protection system in reducing poverty


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The Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton T.D., has welcomed the publication today (16th April, 2014) of the ‘Survey on Income and Living Conditions 2012’ by the Central Statistics Office.

Minister Burton said: "The new data reveals the continuing impact of the economic crisis on household income and living standards in 2012 – when the Government was continuing to tackle the grave financial problems it had inherited. Despite being in an EU-IMF bailout programme and having to reduce State expenditure to tackle the crisis, the Government maintained a massively strong social welfare safety net throughout that period. This report demonstrates once again the critical importance of that safety net, with social transfers – such as jobseeker payments, Child Benefit and pensions – being instrumental in protecting people against poverty."

The Minister said a very positive finding from today’s release is the key role of social transfers in reducing the at-risk-of poverty rate from 50.3% (before all social transfers) to 16.5% after all social transfers. This represents a poverty reduction effect of 67.2%.

As a result, Ireland will remain among the best performing countries in the EU in reducing poverty through social transfers. This reflects the continuation of substantial State investment in the social protection system, despite the constraints of the economic crisis. A key element of this investment has been the maintenance of core weekly rates of welfare payments since this Government came into office.

Noting the 2012 rate of consistent poverty of 7.7%, the Minister reiterated the Government’s commitment to meeting the national social target for poverty reduction which is to reduce consistent poverty to 4% by 2016 and 2% or less by 2020.

"Now that we have exited the bailout, the economy is growing again and employment is increasing, I am confident we can make real progress towards that target in the years ahead.

"Our focus must be on providing work, training and education opportunities to those excluded from the labour market so that they gain a firm foothold in work and build a better future for themselves and their families. That is precisely the goal of the Pathways to Work strategy, and the latest figures show that it is working. In February 2012 the unemployment rate peaked at 15.1% and has since fallen to 11.8% as of last month, a significant reduction of 3 percentage points. So we are making progress but there remains a long way to go and I am determined that, through Pathways, we will increase the pace of that progress this year. This in turn will help to reduce inequality and improve poverty outcomes across society."

Minister Burton concluded: "Our welfare system is working at extraordinary levels of effectiveness and efficiency. Social transfers are essential in protecting the most vulnerable and in contributing to the national social target for poverty reduction."

ENDS

Note to Editors:

The Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) is an annual survey carried out by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) of a representative sample of 4,600 households or 12,000 individuals in Ireland. The survey collects information on the income and living conditions of different households in Ireland, in order to derive indicators on poverty, deprivation and social exclusion. It is carried out in every EU country under EU legislation and commenced in Ireland in June 2003. The findings for 2012 can be found at: www.cso.ie

Consistent poverty is the measure used to set the national social target for poverty reduction. It is the overlap of at-risk-of poverty (below 60% of median income) and basic deprivation (enforced lack of two or more basic necessities). The latest official figures show that the consistent poverty rate was 7.7% in 2012. The CSO state that this is not a statistically significant change from the 2011 rate of 6.9%.

The policy briefing and related documents on the National Social Target for Poverty Reduction are available at www.welfare.ie and www.socialinclusion.ie.

The research briefing and report on Social Transfers and Poverty Alleviation in Ireland are available at www.welfare.ie and www.socialinclusion.ie.

Pathways to Work complements the Action Plan for Jobs. The Action Plan is designed to accelerate the transition to a sustainable, jobs-rich economy, while Pathways aims to ensure that as many as possible of those newly created jobs go to people on the Live Register.

Last modified:16/04/2014