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.