The CSO has just published its Survey of Income and Living Conditions (SILC) for 2009, and it makes for sobering reading. Gross household income dropped by 6.7% between 2008 and 2009, and is now close to 2006 levels. The deprivation rate (2+ items) increased from 13.8% in 2008 to 17.3% in 2009 – this measures the extent to which individuals experienced enforced deprivation, measured by a range of indicators including being unable to afford heating, being unable to afford a warm waterproof coat, or being unable to afford a roast once a week. In terms of indebtedness, almost a quarter of households had been in arrears at least once during 2009 (on either rent/mortgage, utility bills, hire purchase/loan or other bills), compared to just over 10% in 2008. Almost half of households said they would have to borrow to meet an expense of €1,085. People living in the Midland region are the most at risk of poverty, but the biggest increase in the at risk of poverty rate was recorded in the Mid-east (from 10% in 2008 to 14.6% in 2009). Read more in the press release or the full report, which cover the period up to January 2010, and thus do not include public sector pay cuts. If the measures announced yesterday are implemented, particularly in relation to taxation and social welfare cuts, expect significant increases in indebtedness, deprivation and the at risk of poverty rate for 2010.

Mary Gilmartin