Ireland became a more equal and prosperous place in 2015 according to new CSO figures – Varadkar

Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar has welcomed the new Survey on Income & Living Conditions from the CSO which shows improvements in living conditions and tackling poverty.

“I welcome these figures which show that Ireland became a wealthier and more equal country in 2015 when compared with 2014. The CSO figures show that incomes increased by 6.2% with consistent poverty falling from 8.8% to 8.7%, a significant fall in deprivation from 29% to 25.5% and the rate of those not poor but at risk of falling into poverty going down from 17.2% to 16.9%,” Minister Varadkar said.

“The Gini co-efficient, which is the internationally accepted benchmark for income equality in a country, improved from 32 to 30.8, showing that Ireland became a more equal and more prosperous place in 2015. This is the best Gini number recorded for Ireland since 2009.

“These figures demolish the argument made by some on the left that the gap between rich and poor is widening in Ireland. It is not. These numbers prove that the economic recovery is taking hold, is having a positive impact on incomes and is reducing inequality.

“However, they also show that we have a long way to go. Consistent poverty remains much higher now than it was in 2008 at the outset of the financial crisis, when it stood at 4.2%. There are still too many people struggling to make ends meet. My ambition is to secure a place for Ireland in the top tier of countries when it comes to reducing poverty.

“Nonetheless, it is clear that we are on the right path as a country. Given the continuing economic recovery throughout 2016, it is reasonable to anticipate that the figures will show a further improvement for 2016 when they become available. And equally, they are likely to improve again throughout this year due to rising employment and the impact of Budget 2017, which favoured those on lowest incomes.

“In my role as Minister for Social Protection I shall 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. We will continue to build an Ireland that is free and prosperous, with a strong safety net and equal opportunities for all.”