The Government’s response to the cost-of-living crisis must effectively address the root causes of poverty and social exclusion, or it will fail to meet its anti-poverty commitments and will leave behind those most affected, the European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN) Ireland said today as it launched the 2023 edition of its annual Poverty Watch report.

“If the Government is to make progress toward its target of reducing consistent poverty to 2% or less by 2025, all relevant policy decisions, including the annual Budget process, must contribute toward this aim. We need to see a coordinated, long-term, whole of Government approach to truly address the underlying and structural causes of poverty, rather than further one-off, short-term measures. This will require sustainable funding for social investment, financed by progressive and redistributive taxation,” said Paul Ginnell, Director of the European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN) Ireland.

“As a priority the Government needs to ensure everyone has access to an adequate income, whether this is from work or social welfare, or a mix of both. This means introducing a real living wage, as calculated by the Living Wage Technical Group, and social welfare set at an adequate level to meet the cost of living, based on the Minimum Essential Standard of Living (MESL) data,” said Mr Ginnell.

“The Government must also tackle the long-term drivers of the cost of living, including the cost of services such as housing, health, public transport, and childcare, alongside tackling the current immediate drivers such as energy and fuel costs. This means a real commitment to adequate investment to ensure access to affordable and quality public services and supports.”

Each year, Poverty Watch highlights the experiences of particular groups experiencing poverty. This year focuses on how older people and people in Direct Provision are impacted by both poverty and relevant Government decisions.

“Rising inflation and the cost-of-living crisis are particularly significant concerns for older people in Ireland. By age group, the largest increase in the ‘at risk of poverty’ rate was in persons aged 65 and over. Almost one in five older people were at risk of poverty in 2022 compared to one in ten in 2020,” said Mr Ginnell.

“The Government has to effectively prepare for an older population and take action to address and prevent income inadequacy, poverty and social exclusion. Crucial to this is making sure the State Pension is set at a level that provides an adequate income, and benchmarked appropriately to account for inflation and rises in the cost of living.”

“People in the Direct Provision system are among those most likely to experience poverty and social exclusion in Ireland. It is crucial the Government effectively develops a long-term approach to ensure people seeking international protection are not left behind. That includes bringing the implementation of plans to end Direct Provision back on track, and urgently addressing accommodation and income adequacy needs,” said Mr Ginnell.


Read Poverty Watch Ireland 2023 here.

Contact: Tim Hanley, Policy and Communications Officer: 0863316608 / tim.hanley@eapn.ie


  • The European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN) Ireland is a network of 160 local, regional and national anti-poverty organisations and individuals. It is the Irish national network of the European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN), which links groups fighting for the eradication of poverty across Europe. The Mission of EAPN Ireland is: ‘To put the eradication of poverty at the top of the Irish and European policy agenda and empower groups working to end poverty to understand and influence policy-making.’
  • Poverty Watch Ireland is EAPN Ireland’s annual report providing analysis of and recommendations on key poverty and social exclusion issues in Ireland. It also contributes to the European Poverty Watch report’s compilation of data and analysis from EAPN members across Europe. This year’s report focuses on the Government’s approach to addressing the cost-of-living crisis and how these choices address fiscal justice and the rights of people experiencing poverty. Each year’s report also highlights the experiences of particular groups experiencing poverty. This year focuses on how older people and people in in the international protection system are impacted by both poverty and relevant Government decisions.
  • The Roadmap for Social Inclusion 2020-2025 (available here) aims to reduce the consistent poverty rate to 2% or less by 2025 and to make Ireland one of the most socially inclusive States in the EU.
  • The Central Statistics Office (CSO) Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) for 2022 is available here.
    • People are ‘at risk of poverty’ or ‘relatively poor’ when their income is less than 60% of the median equivalised disposable income (mid-point in the scale of the highest to the lowest of all incomes in Ireland). Incomes in households are weighted, depending on the number of adults and children, to arrive at what is called the ‘equivalised disposable income’ for each individual. Over 671,000 people, or 13.1% of the population, were living below the poverty line (at risk of poverty) in 2022.
    • People experience material or enforced deprivation if they live in a household that cannot afford two or more of the eleven items (goods or services) considered to be the norm for other households in society and essential for a basic standard of living.[1] In 2022, 17.7% of the population or over 906,500 people experienced enforced deprivation. This was up significantly from 13.8% in 2021.
    • Consistent poverty measures the proportion of people who are both at risk of poverty and experiencing material deprivation. In 2022, 5.3% of people (more than 271,500 people) were living in consistent poverty, up from 4.0% in 2021 (an increase of over 70,000 people).
  • The Vincentian MESL Research Centre Annual Update 2023 is available here. The MESL provides an evidence-based indicator of the current cost of the goods and services required to enable a socially acceptable minimum standard of living. In this way, the MESL expenditure data serves as a benchmark to assess the adequacy of social welfare supports and the national minimum wage.

[1] Two pairs of strong shoes; A warm waterproof overcoat; Buy new (not second-hand) clothes; Eat meal with meat, chicken, fish (or vegetarian equivalent) every second day; Have a roast joint or its equivalent once a week; Had to go without heating during the last year through lack of money; Keep the home adequately warm; Buy presents for family or friends at least once a year; Replace any worn out furniture; Have family or friends for a drink or meal once a month; Have a morning, afternoon or evening out in the last fortnight for entertainment

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