With fresh supports expected to address the cost-of-living crisis expected from Government today, the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul (SVP) has warned that what it called a “patchwork of temporary supports” will not be sufficient to help households in crisis.
In a sign of how badly the cost-of-living crisis is hitting households, the SVP said it had received a record 228,301 calls for help in 2022, representing a 19.5% increase on 2021.
The charity said that in the weeks of this year, some regions are experiencing a similar increase over the same period last year.
Calls for help with energy and utilities to the society were up almost 40% in 2022 and first time callers grew by 24%.
Households with children accounted for 66% of those requests — with 45% of all requests coming from one parent families.
Gerry Garvey of the SVP told The Echo fresh government interventions would need to be targeted rather than blanket, to better benefit those most in need.
“The biggest cohort of people in need are actually those not on social welfare but those who are working on low income and their income is high enough that they don’t qualify for State supports but not high enough to meet the crazy costs of energy and food and everything else,” Mr Garvey said.
“We’re finding quite a lot of people in that position are coming to us for the first time.”
Among the SVP’s recommendations to government are a call to increase the core social welfare rates by €8 to ensure those on the lowest incomes are not pulled further into poverty. The charity has also called for an increase to the Qualified Child Increase for those under 12 by €5 and for those over 12 by €10 to match the rising cost of raising children and to prevent an increase in child poverty. It has called for an extension of Fuel Allowance to families in receipt of the Working Family Payment as a targeted measure to reach more families experiencing energy poverty.
It also says that delivering a targeted credit to gas pre-pay meter customers is warranted in recognition of the additional vulnerability of this group at heightened risk of disconnection.
In last year’s budget, a range of supports were announced by the Government to help those struggling with increasing prices in fuel, food, heating and accommodation.
While these supports are set to expire this month, discussions have been ongoing among Government ministers as to which measures should be continued.
It seems likely there will be additional supports for those on social welfare, with Tánaiste Micheál Martin saying the most vulnerable in society will be the focus in today’s announcement.