What is your understanding of poverty in Ireland today? What would you identify as possible responces? My understanding of poverty in Ireland today is that it is multifaceted and covers a range of social issues such as lack of education, social exclusion and marginalisation. In the main body of this essay I will discuss my understanding of poverty and put forward sever al responses to these issues. I will examine how people with physical disabilities and mental health problems, one parent families, the unemployed and members of the travelling community are more susceptible to poverty.
Firstly I’d like to define the two main types of poverty in Ireland today which are as follows. Consistent poverty and secondly Relative poverty/at risk of poverty. People in consistent poverty have a combination of relative income poverty with relative deprivation. This means having an income below 60% of the median and also experiencing enforced deprivation. This means being on a low income and not being able to aff ord basic necessities such as new clothes, not having the money to buy food such as meat or fish, not being able to heat your home, or having to go into debt to pay ordinary household bills.
Approximately 5% of people in Ireland fit into this category. People in Relative poverty. This means having an income that is below 60% of the median income (the median is the mid-point on the scale of incomes in Ireland). In 2010, that was an income of below €207. 57 a week for an adult. Whilst people who fall into this category may be able to pay their rent they may not be able to cover the costs of utility bills or perhaps not be able to afford to go out for a meal once a month or to participate socially.
Approximately 15% of people in Ireland fall into this category. According to the Combat Poverty Agency the people most at risk from poverty in the following order are lone parents, the unemployed, people with disabilities or mental health problems, children and the elderly. The effects of poverty in Ireland include social exclusion from normal activities leading to alienation preventing them from developing their skills and talents , lack of access to mainstream financial services which in some cases will lead to people using illegal mone y lenders who charge igher interest rates which in turn puts them in more debt, long term effects on their mental health leading in some cases to depression due to their lack of a sense of self worth or belonging and physical health problems due to bad nutrition, inability to gain well paid jobs, and in the case of children, bullying at school which in turn may cause depression or suicide or that they may drop out of school early. Lone parents are 3 times more likely to be in poverty than the rest of society as a result of expensive childcare and lower levels of education which leads in turn to low paid work.
They find it extremely difficult to access adequate childcare which in turn means they are unable to further their education. Also the financial cost of transition from social welfare to employment inhibits them. They would lose their medical card which is a big issue for any parent who then cannot afford private healthcare on a low wage. They are thus socially excluded. People with physical disabilities have no way to improve the quality of their lives. They may not be able to work at all and must exist on a small sum given to them by the social welfare department. They also require home help just to do menial tasks.
In many cases they rely on a parent or other family member for this support which also puts the carer in a position where they can not work enough hours if any at all to earn a wage that would be considered adequate. This in turn leads to the carer becoming at risk of falling into poverty. These people are among the most vulnerable people in society and are stuck in a poverty trap. They are excluded socially not only because of their physical limitations but also because they cannot afford to do many things other people take for grante d. I personally believe that cutting the payments they receive is a cruel and inhumane thing to do.
If we do not stand up for the weakest people in our society then what does that say about us. People with mental health problems are also stuck in a similar situation to people with physical disabilities. They survive on a meagre social welfare payment with no chance of employment or improving the quality of their lives. Again these people are stuck in a poverty trap and are among the most vulnerable people in society. These people are also socially excluded from many activities other people take for granted which in turn can lead to exacerbation of their mental health problems.
People who are unemployed live on social welfare payments. Unlike people with disabilities or mental health problems they do have the ability to work and would much prefer to be working where possible. There are some government funded initiatives to help people in this category to up skill but unfortunately there are still not enough jobs to go around. People in this category may have a mortgage and/or children to support therefore they are at greater risk of falling into poverty. Members of the travelling community suffer from poverty in a few ways.
Firstly they are stigmatized by the rest of society and find it difficult to secure employment because of bias and also because of the fact that they are moving from place to place. Many of the children in this community leave school early thus leaving them with a lack of education and furthering their risk of poverty. They also suffer from a higher rate of mortality than members of the settled community. The children are often bullied in school because they are seen as different and therefore find it harder to settle into life at school.
My responses to the above mentioned issues would be as follows: Tackling any problem involves finding the root of the problem and working from that point forwards therefore I believe that early intervention would be a key strategy to alleviate some of these problems. The children today will become the parents of tomorrow so I think that targeting children in schools with programmes designed to raise awareness of the social issues involved in poverty and to try and educate them to think in a more sociological way would benefit not only them as individuals but society as a whole.
Putting in place more effective support networks with more government funding for people who are struggling may help to stop people moving from relative poverty to consistent poverty. For people in consistent poverty I think that they need to be helped by directly giving them as much aid as we can give and more importantly try to give them opportunities to help themselves. Nobody wants to have to beg , most would prefer to be g iven an opportunity to make their situation better. Raising awareness in the general community would help also.
Realising that there are many complicated reasons why people end up in poverty and that they are not just a bunch of lazy drop outs would help us to empatise with them more. Also I believe that government policy should be studied in a manner that makes sure that it does not contribute to the creation of poverty. Conclusion: I have discussed in the above paragraphs my understanding of poverty in Ireland today. In the previous paragraphs I have talked about some of the different groups of people who are affected by poverty and also the effects it has upon them.
I have also outlined a few responses to these problems. Overall my understanding of poverty leads me to conclude that poverty has been around and will continue to be an issue into the future despite the good work that government and many other agencies do as it is a complex issue with no easy solutions. Furthermore in my understanding it is the way our society is organised under the capitalist framework that also contributes to this problem. We are living in a society today where the gap between the rich and poor is increasing. This is in part caused by the mechanisms of the Capitalist economy.
Capitalism tends to push people towards poverty through seeking to pay the lowest possible wage to an employee in return for a higher profit margin. They will also close a factory and relocate it to a different country where the labour rates are even l ower as it is more profitable to do so rather than keep the workers in Ireland employed. In a capitalist system property rights take priority over human needs. For example there are many empty houses in the so called ghost estates in Ireland and also many homeless people but the people who own these buildings have no intention of letting the homeless make use of the buildings.
This is perfectly legal in our society. Poverty also benefits capitalism because it means that there will be many who in desperation will settle for any job no matter how little the wage. Therefore poverty stems from the way that capitalism works. I believe that we need to look at changing the system of government to share more equally the benefits of our labours. We must ask ourselves is this acceptable in our modern society with the high moral standards we expect of each other.