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Policy issues concerning Population

As at Census 2016, there were a reported 635,567 over 65s in Ireland. This is projected to have increased to over 740,000 by 2021, or almost 15 per cent of the population. Planning sufficient housing, healthcare and income supports now will ensure that our growing, ageing population will be provided for in to the future.

 

The latest release from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) indicates that Ireland's population is now over 5 million as of April 2021, the highest since 1851. While almost two thirds of the population are of working age, more than 1 in 7 are aged 65 or over, an increase of 112,500 on 2016. Social Justice Ireland has continuously highlighted the need for policies to adapt to the needs of an increasing and ageing population and for policymakers to tackle the challenge of demographic change.

What can the next Government do to ensure we have a society which ensures that all people from different cultures are welcomed in a way that is consistent with our history, our obligations as world citizens and with our economic status, and that every person has a genuine voice in shaping the decisions that affect them?  Read Social Justice Ireland's Election Briefing People and Participation for an outline of a number of key challenges and some policy proposals that should be in the next Programme for Government.

Social Justice Ireland has consistently highlighted the need to strenghten the resourcing of home care and home care pacakges, and has consistently advocated for a statuatory basis to the right to home care.  We welcome the recent publication of a Report on the Provision of  Home Care Services by the Oireachtas Committee on Health.

Ageing will be a dominant theme in the 21st century according to The United Nations World Economic and Social Survey. How we think about ageing can impact the policies we introduce and the supports we deem necessary.  Dr. Diarmuid O'Shea (Irish Gerontological Society) presented on the theme of ageing as an opportunity to add healthy years to life at our Social Policy Conference and emphasised that health and social care expenditures for older people need to be seen as an investment, not a cost.

The Government recently published the 2019 Spending Review of Carer’s Supports.  The findings of this review point to a need to increase investment in community care, and home help and to provide a statutory entitlement to Home Care Packages if we are to meet potential future demand.

In 2016 President Michael D.Higgins spoke of the importance of embracing mulitculturalism when he said "Difference is a resource.  Difference is richness.  That is the Ireland that is unfolding before us and I welcome it.".  With those words, the President laid down a marker to view diversity as a benefit, rather than a drain, enriching all of society.  The rise in populism and anti-immigrant sentiment is a danger to society and democracy.  It polarises communities and incites hatred, and in some cases, violence.  Ireland needs to take a whole of society and policy approach to embrace multiculturalism for the benefit of all.

Support for people to remain in their own homes is a key and appropriate policy objective and coincides with the wishes of most older people. A key component of this is a statutory basis for home care packages.

Current welfare systems were not designed to adapt to the challenges presented by automation and globalisation and are not fit for purpose. That's the view of a new paper from the Adam Smith Institute in the UK published to coincide with the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos this week. The institute argues that governments should look to Universal Basic Income (UBI) experiments around the world as they seek to address the risks posed by large-scale changes to the labour market while retaining the benefits of trade and technological progress.

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