You are here

Policy issues concerning Income Distribution and Poverty

There is absolutely no justification for Government to reduce social welfare rates in Budget 2013 according to Social Justice Ireland.

Speaking at the Minister for Social Protection's annual Pre-Budget Forum (October 12, 2012) Social Justice Ireland pointed out that Government can reduce its borrowing by €3.5bn in Budget 2013 while still protecting Ireland’s most vulnerable people who have taken more than their fair share of the ‘hit’ for the reckless and at times illegal activities of those who got Ireland into its present mess.

Social Justice Ireland commissioned this brief report with the intention of establishing an appropriate benchmark for Ireland’s social welfare payments. The need for this study arises given changes to the availability of income data from the CSO.

A United Nations report has strongly criticized the Government’s policy of making major cuts in public services while keeping Ireland a low-tax country. The report states that this approach hits poor people hardest in a time of recession.

New research published by Social Justice Ireland  shows that, while poverty in Ireland is high, Government policies since 1987 have been increasing the income of the richest ten per cent of households and widening the gap between these and the rest of society. 

Social Justice Ireland has called on all political parties participating in the forthcoming General Election to spell out how they intend to reverse this process in the years immediately ahead.

The economic and financial crisis in Ireland poses a disproportionate threat to vulnerable segments in the country who benefitted little from its economic boom in the first place, the UN Independent Expert on human rights and extreme poverty, Magdalena Sepúlveda has warned.

Disillusionment with the current welfare regime in Germany is real and growing. Interestingly, the solution being proposed by a growing bloc of Christian Democrats (Angela Merkel's party and major part of the current German Government Coalition) is that Germany should move to a Basic Income system. The group within the Christian Democrats proposing this move are led by Dieter Althaus, former premier of the German state of Thuringia.

There is no justification for reducing social welfare rates. Research produced by Social Justice Ireland shows that the take-home pay of TDs rose by €848 a WEEK since 1986 while unemployment benefit rates only rose by €135 in the same period. Government ministers’take-home pay rose by more than €1,533 a WEEK in the same period.

Some legislators in Ireland are still working with illusions when it comes to measuring poverty. A meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on European Affairs on March 25, 2010 saw a number of members of Ireland's Dail and Senate comment on what they thought the basis for measuring poverty was.

Social Justice Ireland has challenged Government to adopt a target of ‘zero poverty’ by 2020. In its most recent Policy Briefing, Social Justice Ireland states that “Government needs to change direction in its approach to reducing poverty. A good starting point would be for Ireland and the EU to adopt a target of ’zero poverty’ to be reached by 2020.” This would be a very appropriate way of marking the European Year against Poverty and Social Exclusion.

The latest statistics covering the 27 countries in the European Union show that 17% of the total population of the EU is at risk of poverty. One in five of all children (20%) are at risk of poverty and 19% of older people are in this situation. The comparable figures provided on Ireland by Eurostat are a little out of date.  They state that: 16% of the total population are at risk of poverty, 18% of children and 21% of people aged 65 and above.

Pages