Some employed people now falling into poverty

By Aideen O'Flaherty

THERE has been a sizeable increase in people in the local area who are employed but are falling below the poverty line and are accessing St Vincent de Paul’s (SVP) services, with a local SVP conference president remarking that “there was nothing like this years ago”.

SVP has highlighted the issue of ‘in-work poverty’ in their Pre-Budget Submission for Budget 2020, which was launched on Tuesday, titled ‘Investing in a Just Society’.

SVP Wallet 1

In their submission, the charity states that increasing supports to ensure an adequate income for those in and out of employment is one of the measures “that will make a real difference” in the lives of people who are trying to break out of poverty.

These issues are being felt locally in the SVP conferences in the area, where there has been a noticeable increase in people who are employed but are struggling financially and are accessing SVP services, including their foodbank in Cherry Orchard.

Marie Cronin, SVP area president for Clondalkin and Ballyfermot, told The Echo: “We have a lot of people who are at work and who are not necessarily on low incomes, like teachers, guards and nurses, but they’re finding it very hard to manage – particularly if they’re a couple and one of them gets ill.

“Even if they have private health insurance, they still have to cover the cost of petrol for driving to and from appointments, buying ready meals because they’re in a rush instead of dropping into a supermarket.

“There have also been problems with couples where they’ve had a second or third child and they can’t afford childcare, so one of the parents will have to give up work and that causes major problems if you have a mortgage.

“You need to spend a full salary just to put a child in childcare.”

The charity also advised in their submission that supports for lone parents in low-paid work should be increased.

It was also recommended that Budget 2020 benchmark social welfare payments and the National Minimum Wage to the cost of a Minimum Essential Standard of Living (MESL), proposing a four per cent increase in minimum social welfare payments in Budget 2020.

Ms Cronin added: “There was nothing like this years ago – it was very unusual that people who were working would come to us.

“Generally speaking, the people who were working tended to be self-sufficient and we were relying on them for donations.

“It was mainly the unemployed who came to us, but now people who are employed come to us too.

“It’d break your heart to see it, these are not people who would normally pick up food at our foodbank, they’d have to be at the end of their tether to do it.

“I often think that things are worse for them than they let on, but their pride gets in the way of them telling us.”

Over 200 people use SVP’s Cherry Orchard foodbank, according to Ms Cronin, while a parish-run foodbank in Balgaddy helps dozens of people in the locality.

People seeking assistance or who wish to volunteer for the charity can call SVP’s Dublin office on 01 855 0022 and they can direct you to your local office, while parish offices can also direct people to their local conference of SVP.

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