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The cuts to funding for the Community and Voluntary sector made during the last recession have yet to be restored. Covid-19 has again highlighted the importance of communities. This support must now be formally recognised in Budget 2021 with investment in programmes that support community engagement; deal with deficit demand; tackle social exclusion; and sustain communities.


Education is widely recognised as crucial to the achievement of our national objectives of economic competitiveness, social inclusion, and active citizenship.  However, the levels of public funding for education in Ireland are out of step with these aspirations. Here we outline priority areas for investment in education in Budget 2021.  


A sustainable environment, a sustainable society and a sustainable economy require thriving communities across the entire country, but especially in rural areas.  It requires leadership and commitment on the policies required to move to a low carbon future, and also requires that we measure what counts.

An open and transparent policy evaluation process, with meaningful engagement from all stakeholders, would ensure that we learn from our successes and from our mistakes. Such a process would ensure that we evaluate both and offer a framework to take our policy successes and replicate them across Government.  Social Justice Ireland believes strongly in the importance of developing a rights-based approach to social, economic, and cultural policy.  A key policy measure to deliver an open and transparent policy evaluation process is to measure the socio-economic impact of each budget.  This should be a statutory responsibility for Government.

Government should strive to create a new economic model based on fairness.   This would ensure that the benefits accruing from a vibrant economy would be distributed in a more equal manner.  Addressing poverty and social exclusion will play a key role in this regard.  The new Government should set an ambitious national poverty reduction target and make persistent poverty the primary indicator of poverty measurement.

A vibrant economy is most important if Ireland is to produce a fairer future for all.  To secure such a future requires us to learn from our mistakes in the past.   Solid policies are required that secure the best future for all. 

Community volunteers have rightly been in receipt of high praise for their response to the COVID-19 crisis.  This community spirit is to be commended, however harnessing that engagement for real social change remains a challenge in the context of a highly centralised Government structure. 

One of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant economic ‘deep freeze’ it has resulted in has been a large reduction in harmful emissions.  This reduction while welcome is only temporary.  The challenge is to ensure that investment in our recovery also supports progress to our climate commitments.

To unravel the two-tier welfare system that has been temporarily created as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, and to truly deliver a fair and sustainable economy the new Government should develop a programme to index social welfare rates to the Minimum Essential Standard of Living over a five-year term. 

It is clear that tax policy will play a vital role both in the immediate Government response to support people and businesses, and in rebuilding our society and economy once the worst of the health impacts are contained.  The new Government has an opportunity to reform and broaden our tax base and lay the foundations to increase our total tax take now to ensure we are well prepared to meet any future shocks.  We have a once in a generation opportunity to build a new society, a new economy and a new country that reflects the lessons we have learned in recent weeks. 

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