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Stark rise in deprivation as more people struggle to heat homes and face utility bill arrears

23rd November 2022

THE NUMBER OF people living in deprivation and struggling to heat their homes has risen in 2022, according to a report from the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

The unemployed, renters, those with longstanding health problems and those living in single parent households have been hit hardest by the increase in deprivation levels, the Survey on Income and Living Conditions: Enforced Deprivation 2022 report has found.

One in five people living in single adult households with kids under 18 cannot afford to keep their home adequately warm, the report revealed.

While an estimated three in ten live in rented or rent-free accommodation, they make up six in ten, 59.6%, of those living in enforced deprivation according to the CSO.

Overall the number of people living in enforced deprivation has risen from 13.8% last year to 17.1% in 2022, and the number of households experiencing difficulty making ends meet jumped from 42% to 49.3% this year.

Key findings from the CSO report

More households across the country are finding that covering their housing costs has become a heavy financial burden, as 30.2% of people fall into this category this year compared to 23% in 2021.

There has also been an increase in the number of people facing utility bill arrears to 9.2% of households, up from 7% last year.

The new statistics have sparked calls for urgent government action from Social Justice Ireland, a social justice think tank, as experts say an additional €8 per week in core social welfare rates is needed. 

The CSO surveys households annually to report on deprivation levels across the country according to 11 indicators which include; people being unable to replace worn out furniture, to afford new clothes, to meet a friend or family for a drink out a meal out once a month, having gone without heating, and being unable to adequately heat your home.

Marginalised

A household that is “excluded and marginalised from consuming goods and services which are considered the norm for other people in society, due to an inability to afford them” is considered deprived.

In 2022, there was an increase in the number of households experiencing 9 of the 11 deprivation indicators surveyed by the CSO.

The most commonly experienced deprivation item was being unable to replace worn out furniture (20.2%), followed by being unable to buy new clothes (10.1%), and being unable to have a meal or drink with friends or family once a month (9.7%).

The largest increases were the number of people unable to afford a morning, afternoon or evening out within a two week period, which shot up from 3.8% to 9.3%, and the number of people unable to keep their home adequately warm, which increased from 3.2% in 2021 to 7.4% of households this year.

The CSO found that people unable to work due to long-standing health problems are the least able to afford a Sunday roast, or a meal with meat evert second day.

Stark rise in deprivation as more people struggle to heat homes and face utility bill arrears© CSO

One in fifty of the persons surveyed were unable to afford a warm waterproof coat, or two strong pairs of shoes.

One in four living in single-adult households with children are unable to afford new clothes, compared to one in eight in two-adult households with one to three children.

21.5 % of one-adult households with children are unable to afford to keep their homes adequately warm in 2022, up from 7.9% in 2021.

Though inability to keep the home warm enough increased across all of the household types surveyed by the CSO, people living in single-adult households are the hardest hit, and represent the largest increase. They are also the most likely to have gone without heating at some stage in the last year.

One in five unemployed people and persons unable to work due to longstanding health problems went without heating in the last year at some point as well, as 23.3% of people in this situation have experienced this hardship, compared to 17.6% last year.

People living in rented and rent-free accommodation were more likely to experience heating-related deprivation than those in owner-occupied homes. One in five renters went without heating at some point in the last year, compared to one in twenty in owner-occupied accommodation.

Social Justice Ireland

Social Justice Ireland Research and Policy Analyst Susanne Rogers said that the figures published by the CSO today show that “just over  876,000 people still struggle to achieve a basic standard of living.”

She highlighted that this includes 250,000 children experiencing deprivation, and that an increase on last year of more than 184,500. 

“This shows us the impact that the rising cost of living is having on people’s daily lives,” Ms Rogers stated. 

“Of particular concern to us in Social Justice Ireland is the increase in deprivation rates in the most vulnerable groups: one parent households, people with a disability, and people who are unemployed. 

“These groups are among those most impacted by the rising cost of living, and they need support.  People in low paid jobs and those in rented accommodation are also experiencing increases in deprivation,” she added. 

Rogers called on the government to immediately  support these groups by increasing core social welfare rates, making tax credits refundable and by introducing a Living Wage of €13.85 per hour. 

Social Justice Ireland director Dr Seán Healy criticised the “failure of last month’s budget” to increase core social welfare rates by €20.

He argued that the increase was the minimum needed for the Government to avoid abandoning “those who need it the most.”

 

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