'The working poor': Cork's middle-income families struggling to meet back-to-school costs, says charity

Rising inflation has also led to a new demographic of people who have sought assistance with back-to-school costs this summer from the Society of St Vincent de Paul for the first time ever
'The working poor': Cork's middle-income families struggling to meet back-to-school costs, says charity

Cork South Central TD and Sinn Féin spokesperson on education, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire said the Government must do more to support families in Cork struggling with back-to-school costs.

There has been a rise in the number of Cork families seeking help with back-to-school costs as well as the general cost of living.

That’s according to Gerry Garvey, the Society of St Vincent de Paul’s southwest regional coordinator, who claimed that “lower-paid working people are getting screwed,” amid the cost-of-living crisis.

Speaking to The Echo, Mr Garvey said: “It has been developing over the last 1.5 years, but this year is much more acute from what I have identified as the new poor, the working poor. These people are working in low-wage jobs where they are earning just a fraction above the limits to get any help, but they don’t have enough income coming in to cover the increased costs in utilities and food.

Rising inflation has also led to a new demographic of people who have sought assistance with back-to-school costs this summer from the Society of St Vincent de Paul for the first time ever.

“You will have the perennials who come every year who need help and that is grand, but there are a lot of people who wouldn’t have come before,” Mr Garvey said.

“For everyone who has come forward, there are probably 10 more that haven’t the courage to come forward,” Mr Garvey continued.

“People are stressed. If you get an average family with three kids, you could have three school-going kids which could mean three lots of books with one or two sets of uniforms and different things.

“We are there to help. The only barometer for us is genuine need. There have been cases where our members have called to houses and there could be a BMW and another good car outside, but if you look closely neither car is taxed and not moving as they can’t afford to use them.

“The middle earners need help too,” he added.

SUPPORT NEEDED

Cork South Central TD and Sinn Féin spokesperson on education, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire said the Government must do more to support families in Cork struggling with back-to-school costs.

“Families are already under huge pressure due to the cost-of-living crisis and will be under real financial pressure to cover these bills. I have been contacted by families across Cork who are very worried about how they will manage to meet these costs and stay on top of their basic bills as well.

“No one should face this stress or the prospect of going into debt, just to send a child to school.

“Middle-income families need help this summer,” Mr Ó Laoghaire said.

“People who have one child in school and who have a combined income of €620 or more per week don’t get any assistance in terms of back-to-school clothing and footwear allowance.

“These are people on modest incomes who are working hard and cannot afford to pay these spiralling back-to-school costs.

“It would be reasonable for the eligibility to be widened so that middle-income earners can receive help with back-to-school costs.

“This would make a real difference to so many people in Cork.”

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