Living standards crisis for Irish families

THE standard of living for many Irish families is worse than previously thought, with many unable to afford to "participate in society" a new report has claimed.

The year-long study, which was part-funded by the Department of Social Protection, has revealed that many low-income households are struggling to meet a basic standard of living in one of the worst economic climates in recent memory.

It found that people relying on welfare, as well as those earning the national minimum wage, did not have enough funds to get by on a day-to-day basis.

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The disturbing findings in "A Minimum Income Standard for Ireland" looked at a variety of Irish household types, including families with young children, pensioners, and single dwellers.

It was put together by academics at Dublin's Trinity College, and the Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice.

One of the report's authors, Dr. Bernadette McMahon said the report outlined the basic income thought to be "essential" in order to have an acceptable standard of living.

"It demonstrates that many households in situations of reliance on social welfare or the minimum wage live with an insufficient income," she explained.

"Income inadequacy means many households live below a level which has been defined as socially acceptable by Irish society."

Co-author Dr. Michael Collins said the minimum standard of living was: "Just having money to get by, to pay your bills, and to be able to have a basic level of interaction with society - in effect, to be able to participate in a society."

Speaking of one of the recommendations the study uncovered, Dr. McMahon added: "we are asking that social welfare, especially child benefit, be age-related."