One million Irish people at risk of poverty with housing subsidies 'not working'

SJI found that one million people are now at risk of living in poverty when their housing costs are factored in
One million Irish people at risk of poverty with housing subsidies 'not working'

Almost one fifth (19 per cent) of the population is living below the poverty line when housing costs are factored in, according to latest research from Social Justice Ireland (SJI).

The research also found an extra 300,000 people were forced into poverty in the past year.

Housing and Poverty 2022 analysed the impact of housing costs on the poverty rates of various household types.

SJI found that one million people are now at risk of living in poverty when their housing costs are factored in.

Solidarity People Before Profit's Paul Murphy said it was an “indictment of Government policy”, while Duncan Smith of Labour said the findings of the study "can't help but shock you".

SJI said its research highlights that government housing subsidies are driving greater numbers into the poverty trap, rather than helping the situation.

When a household in receipt of housing subsidies has paid its rent, the poverty risk for these households is two-and-a-half times greater, the study found.

Poverty criteria

The study used the criteria for poverty first set out in the National Anti-Poverty Strategy in 1997 and data collated by the CSO, the Irish Examiner reports.

The definition for living in poverty used is when a person's income and resources are so inadequate as to preclude them from having a standard of living that is regarded as acceptable by Irish society generally.

SJI said renters are the worst affected, with 44.7 per cent at risk of poverty after housing payments.

Of household types, lone parents are the worst affected. Half of people in this category live below the poverty line after housing payments.

For those in receipt of rent subsidies, such as Housing Assistance Payment (HAP), the poverty rate increases from 22.7 per cent pre-rent payment to 55.9 per cent after rent.

Colette Bennett, economic and social analyst at SJI, said her organisation had for years argued that housing subsidies such as HAP "did not work".

"This latest study provides further proof of that,” she said.

“Clearly subsidies are not working, when the rents households must pay are driving them into poverty at this rate.”

Ms Bennett said it was essential that the Government focuses spending on building social homes rather than a “dysfunctional private rented sector”.

SJI recommendations in the report include the following:

  • Setting a target of 20 per cent of all housing stock to be social housing.
  • Allowing local authorities and approved housing bodies pool resources to finance increased supply in a sustainable way.
  • Developing a system of affordable rent.
  • Enforcing the vacant site levy.

 

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