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Policy issues concerning Inequality


The CSO recently published the Irish Health Survey 2019.  Among the main findings of the survey are that a quarter of persons report having a long-lasting health condition, over a fifth (21%) of unemployed persons report some form of depression compared to 9% of employed people, 82% of females visited a GP in the previous 12 months compared to 68% of males and more than one in two people (56%) report they are overweight or obese. 


Social fairness and solidarity are more important than ever in the European Union if it is to meet the challenges of demographic ageing, climate change and digitalisation and deal with the aftermath of Covid-19.  This is according to the latest 'Employment and Social Developments in Europe Report ‘Fairness and Solidarity in the European Social Market Economy’. 

The European Court of Auditors has just published a special report on child poverty in the EU entitled 'Combating child poverty – Better targeting of Commission support required'.  The report finds that child poverty remains a serious issue in the EU, and unfortunately, child poverty is likely to become even more prevalent in the aftermath of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.  The report recommends that the European Commission target and monitor investment in tackling child poverty, particularly in the period of the new budget period 2021-2027.

The National Economic Plan - to be published on Budget day - must give equal weight to environmental, social and economic considerations. Otherwise, this Government will simply repeat the mistakes of the past and many will be left behind.  The National Economic Plan must be underpinned by a new social contract that treats our environment, society and economy equally


The deprivation figures published by the CSO show that almost 900,000 people still struggle to achieve a basic standard of living. The yearly increase was more than 140,000, and the fact that deprivation is increasing for almost every socio-demographic group is of real concern. 


The jobs crisis precipitated by the Covid-19 health crisis looks set to be felt for years to come, with a recovery not expected until after 2021.  There is a real danger that this jobs crisis will lead to an increase in poverty and exacerbate existing inequalities.  The plan for Resilience and Recovery, the National Economic Plan and Budget 2021 must ensure that the jobs crisis we currently face does not turn into a social crisis. 


Government should increase in core social welfare rates of €7 per week in Budget 2021 and set a three-year target for Government to reach the benchmark of 27.5 per cent of average earnings.  In the forthcoming Budget Government should also complete the equalisation of Jobseeker’s rates for young people under 26, introduce a cost of disability allowance and introduce a universal state pension.

The commitment to using wellbeing indicators alongside economic indicators in the Programme for Government is welcome.  Creating a sustainable Ireland requires the adoption of new indicators to measure progress. To reflect this, the wellbeing indicators that the new Government has committed to developing must include new indicators measuring both wellbeing and sustainability in society, to be used alongside measures of national income like GDP, GNP and GNI.

An open and transparent policy evaluation process, with meaningful engagement from all stakeholders, would ensure that we learn from our successes and from our mistakes. Such a process would ensure that we evaluate both and offer a framework to take our policy successes and replicate them across Government.  Social Justice Ireland believes strongly in the importance of developing a rights-based approach to social, economic, and cultural policy.  A key policy measure to deliver an open and transparent policy evaluation process is to measure the socio-economic impact of each budget.  This should be a statutory responsibility for Government.

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