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Policy issues concerning Inequality

Ireland has one of the most unequal distributions of market income in the European Union. We rely heavily on our tax and social welfare systems to produce a more equal society. High rates of poverty and income inequality have been the norm in Irish society for some time. Read Social Justice Ireland's Election Briefing on Income for an outline of a number of key challenges facing Ireland and some policy proposals that should be in the next Programme for Government.

While Ireland faces a number of challenges, including deficits in our public services and infrastructure, unacceptable rates of poverty, and high national debt, it is important to remember that many people in the world face a far worse situation.  It is important that Ireland plays an active and effective part in promoting sustainable development in the Global South and that all of Ireland’s policies are consistent with such development.  Read Social Justice Ireland's Election Briefing on Global South and ODA for an outline of a number of key challenges and some policy proposals that should be in the next Programme for Government.

The negative impact on rural towns and communities from the potential fallout from Brexit is receiving welcome attention at present.  But what about the other threat to rural Ireland and regional development - the impact that automation and robotics will have on employment across the regions?  This issue should be front and centre as Government rolls out the Climate Action Plan and the National Development Plan.

Social Justice Ireland makes the case for an increase in core social welfare rates of €9 per week for single people in Budget 2020 to ensure the welfare benchmark is maintained at the Pre-Budget Forum in Dublin Castle.

The work of Ireland’s carers receives minimal recognition despite the essential role their work plays in society.   It is time that Government allocate sufficient resources to supporting the work of carers in Ireland.

Living in poverty is a reality for one in five children in Ireland.  This means that around 230,000 children in Ireland are living in families with incomes below the poverty line.  This is one of the main findings from Poverty Focus 2019.  How long more can we afford to ignore these children and their living standards?  This issue can be addressed effectively.  Child poverty can be eliminated.

The headline social inclusion targets addressed in the Irish National Reform Programme are focussed on employment, education and ‘poverty and social exclusion’.  How is Ireland performing on the social inclusion aspects of our National Reform Programme and our Europe 2020 targets?

Among the key findings from the National Social Monitor - European Edition are that quality of housing, the burden of housing costs, financial distress, difficulty in making ends meet and the environment are key issues in Ireland and across the European Union.  As we face into European Elections in May these issues are certain to feature strongly.

People with disabilities face considerable challenges in terms of access to the labour market.  The Census 2016 data revealed that there was 176,445 persons with a disability in the labour force in Ireland, representing a participation rate of 30.2 per cent, less than half that for the population in general. These findings reflect earlier results from Census 2011, the 2006 National Disability Survey.    People with a disability are also among the groups most likely to be affect by persistent joblessness. 

More than 760,000 people are living in poverty in Ireland, of which over 230,000 are children, despite some small improvements in poverty and deprivation rates.  These are the figures released today by the CSO from the annual Survey on Income and Living Conditions.

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