It’s official - the rich are getting richer in Ireland and the poor are getting poorer.

A damning new report has confirmed the gap between rich and poor is widening in the recession hit economy.

Poor households have seen their disposable income drop by a whopping 18 per cent in the last year.

Rich households, in stark contrast, have seen their disposable income rise by four per cent over the same period.

The figures are included in a new report from Social Justice Ireland which highlights that the top 10 per cent of the population receives almost 14 times more disposable income than the poorest ten per cent.

The report also states that in 1980 the figure was eight times more.

Social Justice Ireland boss Fr Sean Healy has slammed government policy and called for major reform in light of the figures.

He told the Irish Sun newspaper: “There is something profoundly wrong with Government decisions that produce this lopsided distribution of income favouring the richest when Ireland’s poor and middle-income people struggle to make ends meet in these extremely difficult times.

“The current strategy being pursued by Government is making the situation worse. Its approach to fiscal adjustment is both unjust and unnecessary in a country with one of the lowest total tax-takes in the developed world.

“Decisions have been taken that have seriously damaged Ireland’s most vulnerable people, that place a disproportionate burden on their shoulders and seriously damage the social infrastructure on which they depend.”

The latest Social Justice Ireland document also notes that more than 700,000 people are at risk of poverty with an income equivalent of under €207.94 a week for a single person or €482.41 a week for a household of four.

It says that more than 200,000 children in Ireland are also living in poverty.

SJI research and policy analyst Michelle Murphy said: “The situation has become much worse over the past 30 years.

“The most important requirement in tackling poverty is the provision of sufficient income to enable people to live life with dignity. No anti-poverty strategy can be effective without a policy addressing low incomes.”

Another 1,600 desperate householders have opted to disconnect their gas supplies.Google Images