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Economy

In episode 8 of our SJI Seminar Series we take a look back to our 30th Annual Social Policy Conference and to the Keynote Address by President Michael D. Higgins.  In this address, President Higgins reflects on the relative positions of the economy and society, and the shape of political discourse. 

This week, the National Economic & Social Council (NESC) published its report on Addressing Employment Vulnerability as part of a Just Transition in Ireland.  With the loss of an estimated 350,000 jobs, the COVID-19 pandemic underscored the impact, social and economic, of job precarity.  This report, drafted in response to the need to transition to a fundamentally new economic future associated with the challenges of climate change and digital automation, is also instructive as we face a new reality post-coronavirus.  When this crisis passes we will need to develop a new social contract and engage in social dialogue to allow all stakeholders to have a say in shaping that contract.

In order to improve the wellbeing of everyone in society, at all stages of the life cycle, it is vital that our policies address the causes of problems rather than their symptoms only.  It is through this lens that Social Justice Ireland examines the ten policy areas in the National Social Monitor. 

The Government has failed to respond adequately to our nation’s housing crisis. There are almost 87,000 households on social housing waiting lists - over half of whom are families - and 10,000 homeless, of whom 3,600 are children. This is a national emergency. The impact of homelessness and precarious housing on our nation’s children will be felt for generations to come.

With 10,000 people - including 3,600 children - homeless, 72,000 mortgages in arrears, and 87,000 households on social housing waiting lists, it can hardly be denied that Government policy is a dramatic failure.

The Central Bank of Ireland is currently formulating its Strategic Plan 2019-2021.  In light of the number of regulatory issues coming to light - with tracker mortgages, over-charging and access issues - it is important that this Strategic Plan focus on consumer protection and regulation of the financial sector to ensure accountability and access to essential services.  See Social Justice Ireland's submission to the Central Bank here

A new study released today by the CSO reminds us that despite our improved economic performance, one in six Irish people are still living in poverty.

Successive Governments have continued to look to private entities to deliver public services.  This has given rise to a regulatory emphasis on safeguarding competition rather than protecting the consumer, leaving households dependent on essential services at the mercy of market forces.   The recommendations in a recent OECD report provide salutary advice.

Ireland is performing in the bottom half of 15 similar European countries on a range of important UN backed indicators covering Economy, Environment and Society. Measuring Progress: Economy, Society and Environment in Ireland puts Ireland’s overall ranking in the Sustainable Progress Index at 11th out of our peer countries in the EU 15.

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