Families go without food, heating and medicine as the cost of living spirals
Families have been forced to go without essentials such as food, heating and medicine in recent months due to soaring living costs, a new study has found.
According to Barnardos, a growing number of families are experiencing financial difficulties, forcing them to save money.
A survey by the children’s charity and Amárach Research found nearly two-thirds of parents said they and their children had gone without essentials in the past six months.
More than a quarter said they had reduced or gone without heating and nearly one in four had reduced or gone without electricity.
The survey of 300 parents and guardians with children aged 17 or younger living with them also found that a third had to cut down on their clothes and one in six had cut down or left without medical appointments or medication. .
Charity staff say they are seeing more and more families falling into financial distress.
One member of staff said: ‘In all my years with this service I have never seen so many families come to the point of being cut off from the electricity, having to make choices about what they are going to do with / without this week. ‘
St Vincent de Paul spokesman Jim Walsh told the Irish Daily Mail yesterday that the charity had seen an increase in calls of up to 20 per cent in the first four months of the year, mainly in urban areas.
They saw a 16% increase in calls from Dublin, with that figure rising to 20% in Galway.
Last year, SVP received a record 191,000 calls, with early indications suggesting this year will see similar records.
Barnardos project manager Sharon McCormick said the majority of those who work with the charity report that price hikes have a significantly negative effect on the health and wellbeing of children engaged in its services. “Staff are seeing families depriving themselves and downsizing, having to choose between having the heat and electricity on and having food in their cupboards,” she said.
“Children in these households are at risk of living in cold houses and going hungry and parents who live in a state of worry or distress may have less ability to focus on parenthood.”
Barnardos is now calling on the government to introduce a support fund through the Department of Social Welfare where families can seek help to pay essential bills when their children would otherwise go without.
Meanwhile, Taoiseach Micheál Martin on Wednesday denied claims by Sinn Féin that the government is “painfully out of touch” with the mounting cost of living pressures facing families.
Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty criticized Mr Martin for not coming up with new mitigation measures before the next budget in October.
On Tuesday, the Taoiseach said Ireland was facing a ‘new era’ of rising fossil fuel prices after European leaders agreed to ban most Russian oil imports following the war in Ukraine .
Mr Martin said on Wednesday his remarks about a future of high fuel prices were “honest”. “It shouldn’t be surprising, as you said, to tell the truth,” he said. “And what I said yesterday spoke the truth about a new era of rising fossil fuel prices. And the reason is that this week we will mark the grim milestone of 100 days since Russia’s wrongful, illegal and immoral invasion of Ukraine.
He added: “This war is having a very terrible impact on the world, mainly in terms of the deaths of so many Ukrainians and the terrible trauma they suffer, but also a huge economic cost.”
Mr Martin denied that the government was slow to act, pointing out that the measures it had taken to tackle cost of living pressures since last October amounted to 2.5 billion euros.