Data published today from the EU-wide Survey of Income and Living Conditions (SILC) confirms a stark reduction for Irish workers and welfare recipients in 2012 of 4.6% in the real value of median income i.e. after accounting for inflation. The income of individuals  dropped from €420.08 per week in 2011 to €399.69 in 2012.  Wages fell by 2% while tax and social contributions increased by approximately 3.9%. There was also a fall of 4.3% in social welfare payments and pensions. According to SIPTU’s policy analyst, Loraine Mulligan: ‘The results highlight the harsh impact of the economic crisis in recent years on ordinary households.  People who do not fall under the definition of income poverty (i.e. under 60% of median income) are nonetheless increasingly experiencing deprivation, up from 21% in 2011 to 23% in 2012.  This is the squeezed group of low/middle income households who are unable to replace old furniture, or to afford a social meal out or to invite friends or family over for food.  It is imperative to ease the financial pressures on families, to reduce unemployment and to ensure services are in place to support the most vulnerable.  Wage increases are key to ensuring people have sufficient income to meet their needs. “The report also establishes that in 2012 those on the highest incomes receive five times the amount of those on the lowest incomes. While this is almost the same as the previous year, the ratio was 4.3 in 2009 and increased in the intervening years.  This makes it all the more important to tackle precarious employment and low pay while also maintaining welfare rates.  SIPTU has been campaigning strongly to bring employers to the table to secure decent pay and conditions in vulnerable sectors such as hospitality and catering under the restored Joint Labour Committee system.  It is time for the business community to live up to its responsibilities and play its part in easing the risk of poverty and hardship.”