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Covid-19

'Building a New Social Contract – Policy Recommendations’ contains more than eighty specific policy recommendations that would go a considerable direction towards a new social contract to improve the quality of life and wellbeing of everyone and ensure that a no-one is left behind as our economy and society recovers from the impact of Covid-19.


Covid-19 has caused us to think about many things that previously we may never really have considered: the importance of good public services; the need for a social security system that provides real security in the face of sickness and unemployment; and about concepts such as inter-dependence and solidarity.  It has led us to reassess what we mean by ‘essentially work’; who really are the ‘essential workers’; and is it right that many of them are treated the way they are.  And it has fundamentally changed the relationship between business and the state.


Covid-19 has highlighted things that are profoundly amiss with our Social Contract.  Once the pandemic has been addressed successfully it is crucial that we face up to the radical reforms that are required if we are to deliver a new social contract based on the principles of justice and fairness, with sustainability at its core.

How normal was the world before Covid-19? The last decade has been anything but normal – whether viewed at national or European level, or in broader geopolitical terms.  We, as a planet, face a choice between attempting to develop responses cognitively through a new dialogue, political and social, or simply marching on, brainless, based on some notion of the old normal.

We are well aware of the short-term health, social and economic impacts of Covid-19.  But what about the long-term impacts that the pandemic has caused, partciularly the disruption to education and learning.  The latest research indicates that students impacted are facing at least a 3 per cent loss of income compared to peers in previous years throughout their lifetimes, with disadvantaged students being worst affected.  

Ireland's Quarterly National Accounts, published earlier this week, serve to underline the detachment between many of Ireland's headline economic statistics and life on the ground.

As children all over the country returned to school, the findings of the latest Survey from the Central Statistics Office - Social Impact of COVID-19 Survey August 2020: The Reopening of Schools – provides insights into the impact of #StayHomeStaySafe on children’s education.


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. 

The July Jobs Stimulus contains some welcome elements which have the potential to support businesses, particularly small and medium enterprises, to absorb the economic impact of Covid-19. However, it remains to be seen if the package is of the scale required to begin the process of real economic recovery for the many businesses impacted, to alleviate the financial hardship of households on reduced incomes and to secure medium-to-long-term societal wellbeing. Read our full analysis here.

The effects of COVID-19 will take the heaviest toll on the most vulnerable, both nationally and internationally.  The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - a series of 17 high level goals based on 169 targets and over 230 indicators can provide a framework to refocus efforts towards policies to directly help people and communities in the long run and to provide a pathway out of poverty.  In our latest policy briefing, we look at Ireland's progress towards the SDGs and provide a series of policy recommendations to improve it.

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