Tuesday, 17 May 2022
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
Social Welfare Benefits
127. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her views on the findings of the most recent European Union survey on Income and living conditions data, including measures in place to support those found to be most at risk of poverty; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24669/22]
The Survey on Income and Living Conditions contains the official poverty data for Ireland. The most recent survey results (SILC 2021) were published by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) on 6 May 2022.
Government welcomes the progress made towards meeting the ambitious Roadmap for Social Inclusion targets, which includes reduction in the percentage of the population in consistent poverty to 2% or less by 2025. The latest SILC data shows steady progress in achieving the Roadmap target to reduce consistent poverty, with a 0.7 percentage point reduction to 4%.
Data from SILC 2021 highlights the protective effect that social transfers have on poverty. Without social transfers, the at risk of poverty rate would have been 38.6%. Social transfers reduced this rate to 11.6%. This represents a 70% reduction on the at risk of poverty rate in 2021. Ireland is consistently one of the best performing EU countries in reducing poverty through social transfers.
Budget 2022 included a range of measures to support groups at risk of poverty, including those not at work due to illness or disability, lone parents and those who are unemployed. Measures included increases to all core weekly payments and to the qualified child rates; an increase in the weekly income threshold for the Working Family Payment for all family sizes; an increase in the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance for older and younger children; an increase in the earnings limit for the Disability Allowance; and increases to the Living Alone allowance and Fuel allowance.
Social impact assessments of Budgets published on the Department's website find that recent Budgets benefited those in the lower income deciles the most primarily as a result of the social welfare measures.
In addition, under Strand 4 of Pathways to Work 2021 - 2025, the national employment services strategy, there are a number of key commitments to support groups that are under-represented in the labour market, as a key mechanism for exiting poverty.
I will continue to work with my Government colleagues as we strive for further improvements across the key national poverty indicators, ensuring continued support for those most at risk of poverty.