Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Ceisteanna (579)

Willie O'Dea


579. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the latest available data on food poverty; the way in which Ireland compares to the rest of the EU in this regard; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [49975/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Data from the Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) published by the CSO includes two items from relating specifically to the consumption of food as part of the 11 item deprivation measure:

- the percentage of the population unable to afford a meal with meat, chicken or fish every second day;

- the percentage of the population unable to afford a roast once a week.

The most recent available SILC data is for 2018 and was published by the CSO on the 28 November 2019.

In 2018, 1.6% of the population were “unable to afford a meal with meat, chicken or fish every second day”. This is similar to the 2017 rate of 1.7%. While comparable EU data for 2018 is not yet available, the EU average in 2017 was 7.9%.

Again in 2018, 4% of the population were “unable to afford a roast once a week”. This is a decrease from the 2017 rate of 5.3%. No EU data are published for this indicator.

Overall, the latest deprivation data from the 2018 SILC is positive. The 2018 rate is 15.1% compared to 18.8% in 2017. This is a significant reduction and a continuation of the yearly decline in deprivation rates since the peak level of 30.5% in 2013.

This Department administers the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD), which provides food and basic consumer products to people most at risk. In 2018, my Department spent €5.5m on the FEAD programme through the ongoing distribution of food and the distribution of material assistance in the areas of school kits and new migrants. Though a network of charitable partnership organisations, the Department distributed over 1,300 tonnes of food to almost 152,000 people in communities throughout the country, either in the form of food parcels or as meals prepared by charitable organisation. To date in 2019, €5.2m has been spent on the FEAD programme.

Difficulty in meeting food and other regular ongoing needs may result from a family encountering exceptional once-off expenditures. In this regard, under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme, my Department may make a single exceptional needs payment (ENP) to help meet essential, once-off expenditure which a person could not reasonably be expected to meet out of their weekly income. Any persons who consider that they have an entitlement to an exceptional needs payment should contact my Department’s Community Welfare Service at their local office.