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Income Distribution and Poverty

The number of people at risk of poverty in Ireland has grown from 14.1% in 2009 to 15.8% in 2010 according to the latest Survey on Income and Living Condidtions (SILC) conducted by the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

More than three quarters of the savings came from correcting errors made by Department of Social Protection staff

Most social welfare rates are not adequate to provide a standard of living seen as socially acceptable in Ireland according to a study conducted by the Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice and Trinity College.

The increase in the proportion of Ireland’s population at risk of poverty, (from 14.1% to 15.8% in one year) clearly identifies a major challenge for Government as it finalises its Budget for 2012. Budget 2012 must give priority to protecting Ireland’s poorest and most vulnerable people according to Social Justice Ireland

There is no justification for reducing Child Benefit. Below Social Justice Ireland outlines why Child Benefit should neither be reduced nor taxed in Budget 2012.
1. Child Benefit should not be reduced

Inequality has been growing dramatically in the USA according to a new report by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on November 25, 2011.  After-tax income for the highest-income households grew more than it did for any other group in the USA between 1979 and 2007. The trend in Ireland is along similar lines. This needs to be reversed in Budget 2011 and it can be done.

Social Justice Ireland welcomes the publication of the ESRI report on ‘Tax, Welfare and Work Incentives’ which finds that 8 out of 10 people receiving welfare payments would increase their income by at least 50% if they were to obtain a job. These findings comprehensively refute the argument that most unemployed people ‘are better off on the dole’.

There is absolutely no justification for Government to reduce social welfare rates in Budget 2013 according to Social Justice Ireland.

Speaking at the Minister for Social Protection's annual Pre-Budget Forum (October 12, 2012) Social Justice Ireland pointed out that Government can reduce its borrowing by €3.5bn in Budget 2013 while still protecting Ireland’s most vulnerable people who have taken more than their fair share of the ‘hit’ for the reckless and at times illegal activities of those who got Ireland into its present mess.

Social Justice Ireland commissioned this brief report with the intention of establishing an appropriate benchmark for Ireland’s social welfare payments. The need for this study arises given changes to the availability of income data from the CSO.

A United Nations report has strongly criticized the Government’s policy of making major cuts in public services while keeping Ireland a low-tax country. The report states that this approach hits poor people hardest in a time of recession.