A record 228,301 calls for help to the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul (SVP) in 2022 and a further increase in January of this year already shows that targeted and permanent supports are needed for households in crisis.
The 2022 figure represents a 19.5% increase on 2021 and already this year some SVP regions are experiencing a similar increase over the same period last year.
Dr Tricia Keilthy, SVP Head of Social Justice and Policy says that the Society called for a €20 weekly increase in social welfare rates in Budget 2023 to keep individuals’ incomes standing still as the cost of living increased rapidly. Increasing core social welfare rates by a further €8 is required to ensure those on the lowest incomes are not pulled further into poverty.
Calls for help with energy and utilities to the Society were up almost 40% in 2022 and first time callers grew by 24%. Households with children accounted for 66% of those requests – with 45% of all requests coming from one parent families.
Dr Keilthy said that these figures show the importance of increasing the Qualified Child Increase (QCI) for those under 12 by €5 per week and for those over 12 by €10 per week to match the rising cost of raising children and to prevent an increase in child poverty.
SVP is again calling for the Fuel Allowance to be extended to families in receipt of the Working Family Payment as a targeted measure to reach more families experiencing energy poverty. It also says that delivering a targeted credit to gas pre-pay meter customers is warranted in recognition of the additional vulnerability of this group at heightened risk of disconnection.
“As the Government is considering the future of the current cost-of-living package and what supports can be continued, or new ones introduced, we strongly urge targeted support to households in crisis. Government can no longer rely on short term responses to what are longer term problems.” said Dr Keilthy.
She added; “With increasing numbers seeking help, not only from SVP, but also from other charities and applications for Additional Needs Payments to Community Welfare Officers (CWO) around the country at a record level, it is clear that the number of families struggling needs to be addressed.”
Over the longer term, SVP is calling on Government to set the basic rate of social welfare at a Minimum Essential Standard of Living. This would be a floor, under which no one would be expected to live and where everyone could afford the essentials to live and participate in Irish society.