Ireland: SVP reports huge increase in requests for help as cost of living soars

 Several Irish newspapers have reported that the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul (SVP) has experienced a 70% increase in requests for help in recent weeks. The Society sees a direct link to drastic increases in the cost of living. The Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) had 4,858 requests for help in the first three months of this year in the greater Dublin region alone - up 70% from 2,853 in the same period in 2007. "There's no doubt those figures are replicated nationwide," said SVP spokesman Stuart Kenny. Campaigners in Ireland point to the rocketing price of food, which has risen 9.3% in the past 12 months, as well as increasing job losses in construction as the reason for the increase in calls for assistance. Basics such as fuel bills have also risen 12.3% in the past year, while medical bills are up 5.7% and schooling costs up 5.9%. "These significant increases in the cost of living are coming home to roost in a very severe way," said SVP vice-president John Monaghan. "Calls [for help] to our offices are today at levels we normally get in the run-up to Christmas." Families and people on social welfare or the minimum wage spend a greater part of their weekly budget on the basics, so they are hardest hit by the rises in the cost of living, he said. Mr Monaghan attacked business groups who have called for the minimum wage lowered to address Ireland's high inflation rate, which is currently at 5%. He said: "They're saying it's not the guys at the top who are causing problems but the guys at the bottom, They say the way to keep Ireland competitive is to look at cutting low wages of people at the bottom. Our attitude is 'no way will this happen' and we would be jumping all over the place if it did." Source: SVP

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