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Social welfare rates must be increased in Budget 2021.  The gap between those reliant on social welfare and those on average weekly earnings is growing.  Average earnings to the end of Q2 2020 increased by 6 per cent, whereas core social welfare rates have seen no increase since Budget 2019.  Social welfare rates must be increased in Budget 2021, in line with a movement towards 27.5 per cent of average weekly earnings in order to address this growing problem.  If not, then this Government will leave those who are most vulnerable behind. 

For the years 2020-2022, or until Ireland reaches full employment (if earlier than 2022), the fiscal stance adopted by Ireland should be determined by an unemployment target, rather than a deficit target, in recognition of the role domestic demand plays in sustaining domestic employment. The State should begin to plan now for the additional tax measures necessary, over the long-term, to finance the Government expenditure required to finance universal services and income supports for our citizens.

Click  here to check out our Budget Choices 2021 Policy Briefing, and watch the video of the launch seminar.

Budget 2021 should be socially progressive and promote wellbeing.  This is key to a fair and inclusive recovery as we learn to live and work in a Covid-19 world.  Budgets represent what a government values and how they intend to meet their objectives. For Budget 2021 to be socially progressive it must ensure that nobody is left behind.  While developing a thriving economy is essential, it cannot be delivered without simultaneously working to provide decent services and infrastructure, just taxation, good governance and sustainability.

Social transfers are an effective policy tool in reducing income inequality in Ireland. Without social transfers, the proportion of the Irish population living at risk of poverty would be more than double what it currently is. Expenditure by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection accounted for 24 per cent of total Government expenditure in 2019, and 6 per cent of GDP. The Department recently published its Annual Statistical Report 2019 which contains a wealth of information on how this expenditure is distributed. 

Ahead of Budget 2021, we examine some trends in effective income tax rates in Ireland over the last two decades.

Brexit has the potential to even further reduce the living standards of Ireland's most vulnerable. A sudden increase in food prices will hit lower income households hardest. Here's why.

Statistics produced by Safe Ireland indicate that 1,138 women and 1,667 children were accommodated in a refuge in 2018, yet Ireland continues to fail to meet our commitments under the Istanbul Convention.

Budget 2021 follows a series of budgets over recent years that have frequently given emphasis to providing reductions in income taxation. Here we compare the total annual value of these reductions between 2014 and 2020.  

By the end of 2018 there were 6,252 applicants for International Protection living in Direct Provision centres across the State, with centres reaching almost full capacity by December 2018. Since 2002, occupancy has consistently been over 70 per cent of capacity in Ireland’s reception centres. Numerous reports have called for an end to the current system of Direct Provision in Ireland. This must begin with Budget 2021.