The most recent data from the Survey on Income and Living Conditions 2018 was published by the CSO in late November. It shows that the 2018 at-risk-of-poverty rate for people with a principal economic status (PES) of ‘not at work due to illness of disability’ was 47.7%, an increase on the 2017 rate (35.4%). In 2018, the at-risk-of-poverty (AROP) threshold for a single person increased by €1,200 to €13,723 per year. This was primarily driven by an increase in employment income.
The at-risk-of-poverty rate is determined by the percentage of individuals with an equivalised disposable income below 60% of the median equivalised disposable income. The calculation of equivalised income is based on household income, and thus is dependent on the income of others in the household.
This is of importance when considering those with a PES of ‘not at work due to illness/disability’ in 2018. Almost 68% of this group were living in households where nobody worked. As a result, the equivalised disposable income of those ‘not working due to illness/disability’ did not increase at the same rate as the AROP threshold in 2018.
It is interesting to note that the 2018 deprivation rate for this group was 36.7%, a reduction on the 2017 rate of 45.9%. Looking at this more closely, the deprivation rate for those within this group who were also at-risk-of-poverty saw a large decrease from 67.8% in 2017 to 44.7% in 2018. This is reflected in the 2018 consistent poverty rate for this group (those both at-risk-of-poverty and experiencing deprivation) which was 21.3%, down from the 2017 rate of 24%.
This means that, while the at-risk-of-poverty rate rose for people with a PES of ‘not at work due to illness/disability’ in 2018, the deprivation rate fell, particularly for those within the group who were also at risk of poverty.
Across Budgets 2017 to 2020, the Government increased maximum weekly welfare payments by €15 per week with proportionate increases for qualified adult dependents; introduced a new qualified child rate for children over 12 years of age and increased weekly qualified child rates by €6.20 for children under 12 and €10.60 for those over-12, amongst other measures.
It can take some time for the full impact of budgetary measures to reflected in data from the Survey on Income and Living Conditions. Given the continuing economic recovery and the measures introduced in recent Budgets, I expect to see the poverty data for 2019 and 2020, when they become available, to show further improvements over the 2018 outcomes. I will continue to work with my Government colleagues to ensure that the economic recovery is experienced in all regions and by all families, households and individuals.