Damning report on inequality

By Diana O’Dwyer

A new report by TASC shows that Ireland has the worst ‘market income’ inequality in the EU before tax and social welfare.

– The top one percent of households receive ten percent of wages, profits and rents, or €373,000 on average.

– The top ten percent receive a third of market income and own 42-58% of wealth.

– The bottom ten percent receive 3.1%.

– The average wage of the bottom 90% – the vast majority of workers – is €27,400.

– Workers’ share of national income fell from 65% in 1990 to 56% in 2009.

– Even after tax and social welfare, two-thirds of households had a gross income under €35,000 in 2011.

– The cost of living in Ireland is 20% above the EU average.

– Childcare costs comprise 27% of net income compared to 11% across the EU.

All of this shows the impact of real wage cuts of 11.5% since the crash and wage moderation in exchange for income tax cuts under ‘social partnership’ before that. This has facilitated low wage employers and left a minority of well-paid employees paying the majority of income tax.

Driving it all has been Ireland’s role as a haven for foreign and domestic capital, which is stealing more of the value of the goods and services workers produce, while paying less tax.

The result has been public services starved of funding, demands for cuts to the top rate of income tax for the wealthiest income earners, and regressive taxes like water charges that shift the burden onto the working class.