Much progress towards reducing poverty levels here has been reversed by the recession, according to a Government review.

It finds that there was a fall of less than one percentage point in the proportion of households living in consistent poverty from 7% in 2005 to 6.2% in 2010.

This is despite a commitment by the previous coalition to cut levels by half.

To be consistently poor, one must be earning less than 60% of the national average income and be forced to live without two or more basic necessities like new clothing and a meal of meat, chicken, fish or a vegetarian equivalent every second day.

However, the review also reveals that the rate among older people has fallen to 1% - meeting the target set by the previous government.

Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton welcomed this achievement along with what she called "significant improvements" between 2005 and 2010.

But she said more needs to be done to reduce the burden of poverty on vulnerable groups.

She announced new Government targets to reduce consistent poverty to 4% of the population by 2016 and to 2% or less by 2020.

However the think-tank, Social Justice Ireland, expressed deep disappointment with the announcement saying the child poverty target could be reached while child poverty actually grows.

The group also decried the continuing failure to aim for a specific reduction in the numbers of the “working poor”, pointing out that just over one in six of all those at risk of poverty has a job.