......the percentage of people living on only half the average income increased 20pc ...........


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Posted by Ahem on July 17, 2001 at 16:19:48:

In Reply to: Re: Castlebar memories posted by Emigre on July 17, 2001 at 01:08:12:

Irish Indpendent July 17, 2001

Poverty is halved but ESRI warns of inequality


LEVELS of poverty have been halved in recent years, new research published yesterday shows.


The economy's rising tide has lifted all boats, says the Economic and Social Research Institute. But some groups have not benefited as much as others single parents and pensioners are among those who have missed out on the boom.


The report contradicts claims that levels of poverty have actually increased during the boom years.


The ESRI, independent economic advisers to the Government, show that consistent poverty fell by 50pc between 1994 and 1998.


But the inequality of the distribution of national wealth is illustrated by figures showing that the percentage of people living on only half the average income increased 20pc of people were living on it in 1998, as opposed to around 17pc four years earlier.


ESRI economist Richard Layte said the Government should look towards Scandinavia for a model of how to reduce inequality and increase social inclusion.


"People's lifestyles are better now, but if inequality increases you could see a deeper chasm between different sections of society," he added. The groups most at risk of descending deeper into poverty were those who could not participate in the labour market, he said.


These groups which include pensioners, single parents and the long-term unemployed had also found their incomes rising at a much slower rate than others.


Among pensioners there had been a tripling of poverty between 1994 and 1998, said Mr Layte.


The ESRI study, Monitoring Poverty Trends and Exploring Poverty Dynamics in Ireland, concludes that current global targets for poverty reduction could be reached here by 2004.


Launching the report, Social, Community and Family Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern said it highlighted the fact that consistent poverty in Ireland has effectively halved between 1994 and 1998.


"I am glad, after the negative comments inspired by last week's UN report, that we can point to real and substantial improvements in the lot of the weakest sections of society."


Launching three other reports including the new annual report of the National Anti-Poverty Strategy inter-departmental policy committee the minister said he believed the best way out of poverty was through a job.


New funding of 45,000 for the National Adult Literacy Agency was also announced by him. The money includes a grant towards the cost of International Literacy Day, which will be held next October.


"Poor literacy skills are one of the underlying causes of long-term unemployment," added the minister.

Ben Quinn




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