You are here

Income Distribution and Poverty

‘Ireland and the Europe 2020 Strategy - A review of the social inclusion aspects of Ireland’s National Reform Programme’ covers three of the five headline targets established in the Europe 2020 Strategy and addressed in the Irish National Reform Programme, namely, employment, education and ‘poverty and social exclusion’.  It is the latest in a series that since 2011 has tracked Ireland’s performance on achieving its own targets in the Europe 2020 Strategy.


Social Justice Ireland’s report ‘Ireland and the Europe 2020 Strategy - A review of the social inclusion aspects of Ireland’s National Reform Programme’ has found that overall, current trends in Irish public policy are running counter to the promotion of ‘inclusive growth,’ which is one of the three key priorities which underlie the Europe 2020 Strategy. 
 


Social Justice Ireland is proposing a €10 increase in core social welfare payments in Budget 2022. This would set Government on the correct path to benchmark social welfare rates to 27.5 per cent average weekly earnings over a two-year period, which was the standard set in 2007.  Budget 2021 was the second budget in a row which failed to deliver an increase to the minimum social welfare payment.  A repetition of this failure in Budget 2022 would leave those who are most vulnerable in a very difficult position and see them fall further behind.


How we plan our finances, and what we choose to prioritise, post-Covid-19, will have profound implications for the future of our economy and society. To this end Social Justice Ireland proposed to the Select Committee on Budgetary Oversight that the priorities for Budget 2022 should be adequate social welfare rates and poverty reduction, just taxation, housing for all and tackling unemployment. 


Poverty Focus examines the nature and experience of poverty in Ireland and sets out a series of solutions that could be adopted by Government.  Each year Poverty Focus highlights one area of concern while also commenting on the general policy landscape.  This year we pay particular attention to the impact of social welfare rates on low income households.


More than 15% of all those in poverty in Ireland have a job while more than a quarter are children.  This is one of the main findings of Social Justice Ireland’s latest study ‘Poverty Focus 2021’.  This scandalous situation persists despite the reduction in poverty rates in recent years.  While progress in reducing poverty is welcome, Government’s failure to raise core social welfare rates in the last two Budgets will see this progress reversed.


One of the key tools at our disposal to reduce poverty is social welfare. If Government is serious about reducing poverty and meeting the targets set out in the Roadmap for Social Inclusion then the first step must be to benchmark social welfare rates to 27.5 per cent of average earnings, and to do this over either one or two budgetary cycles.


Social Justice Ireland
believes in the very important role that social welfare plays in addressing poverty.  Without the social welfare system just over 4 in every 10 people in the Irish population (41.4 per cent) would have been living in poverty in 2019.  In 2021, as we plan future budgetary priorities, it is important that adequate levels of social welfare be maintained to ensure that the mistakes of the past are not repeated.

Annex 3 accompanies chapter 3 'Income Distribution' in Social Justice Matters: 2021 guide to a fairer Irish Society.  


Ireland is among the signatories of the recent Joint Declaration by the Ministers of the EPSCO Council ‘Overcoming poverty and social exclusion – mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on families – working together to develop prospects for strong children’. If Government is truly committed to the stated objectives of the joint declaration then significant resources and serious political and policy commitment to addressing child and family poverty are required.

Pages