On May 6th 2022, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) published the results of the Survey of Income and Living Conditions (SILC) 2021. SILC is a household survey which provides the data from which key national poverty indicators are derived, including the at risk of poverty rate, the consistent poverty rate and rates of enforced deprivation. In their press release the CSO note that “Income and poverty estimates from SILC 2021 are calculated from 2020 calendar year income.” Participants in this survey were interviewed in the first six months of 2021.
In 2021 the at-risk-of-poverty rate decreased 1.6 percentage points to 11.6%. However, without the COVID-19 pandemic income supports this figure would have been 19.9%. While if all social transfers are excluded, the at-risk-of-poverty rate would rise to 38.6%. Social transfers include, for example, Child Benefit, Housing Assistance Payment, Jobseekers payment, Pandemic Unemployment Payment, One Parent Family Payment, pensions, illness and disability payments.
The SILC data is presented under a number of difference categories including Principal Economic Status (PES). Under PES, for people who are identified themselves as unemployed their at-risk-of-poverty rates decreased by 10 percentage points to 23.2%. However, without the COVID-19 pandemic income supports this figure would have been 44.1%.
The CSO notes that the “enforced deprivation rate is the percentage of persons that are considered to be marginalised or deprived because they live in households that cannot afford goods and services which are considered to be the norm for other households in society.” This rate captures people in the population who were not able to afford at least two of the items / activities contained in a list of eleven. Amongst the issues noted by survey respondents were: unable to replace worn out furniture; unable to afford new (not second-hand) clothes; unable to afford to have family or friends for a drink or meal once a month; without heating at some stage in the last year.
In 2021 the deprivation rate was 13.8%, 0.5 percentage points lower than 2020. While for unemployed people, their deprivation rate was 31.6%, 1.7 percentage points lower than 2020.
At the national level the consistent poverty rate, which captures people who are at-risk-of-poverty and experience deprivation, was 4%. Again this figure was higher for people who are unemployed 10.2%, though it decreased by 6.2 percentage points over the year. Amongst the other groups with higher consistent poverty rates were people unable to work due to long-standing health problems (19.2%); households with one adult aged under 65 years (11.1%); households with one adult with children aged under 18 years (13.1%); no person at work in the household (12.4%); and people whose tenure status was rented or rent free (9.8%).