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Social Inclusion


Government should increase in core social welfare rates of €7 per week in Budget 2021 and set a three-year target for Government to reach the benchmark of 27.5 per cent of average earnings.  In the forthcoming Budget Government should also complete the equalisation of Jobseeker’s rates for young people under 26, introduce a cost of disability allowance and introduce a universal state pension.


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.


Over ten years on from the financial crash, and after six years of economic growth, before the onset of Covid-19, across the European Union there were 16.8 million people unemployed, 6.65 million people long-term unemployed, and 86 million people living in poverty of whom 19 million were children.  This presents significant challenges as Europe grapples with the social and economic consequences of the current crisis.


‘A Rising Tide Failing to Lift All Boats’ is the latest publication in Social Justice Ireland’s European Research Series.   This report analyses performance in areas such as poverty and inequality, employment, access to key public services and taxation.  The report also points to key policy proposals and alternatives for discussion.  These include the right to sufficient income, meaningful work and access to essential quality services.  The policy proposals explore how these areas might be delivered upon in a changing world.

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.

Life on a low income is the norm for a large proportion of our society. Prior to the current public health crisis, one in every seven people in Ireland lived with an income below the poverty line; about 680,000 people. Looking ahead, these numbers look set to rise as the very uneven impact of the Covid-19 crisis unfolds. 

Ireland has been without a National Action Plan for Social Inclusion for over two years, a failure of Government to protect the most vulnerable in society.  Yesterday (14th January 2020) the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection published the Roadmap for Social Inclusion 2020-2025 which “sets out the Government’s ambition for Ireland to become one of the most socially inclusive States in the EU, defines a number of specific targets to be achieved and details a number of key commitments to deliver on this ambition and these targets” – but is this ambition enough?  Our review suggests that there will be almost the same number of people in poverty in 2025 as in 2018.

Social Justice Ireland welcomed the launch by Minister Michael Ring, Minister for Rural and Community Development, of the National Social Enterprise Policy yesterday (18th July 2019).  We, with others in the Community and Voluntary Pillar, have advocated for the introduction of such a Policy for a long time and we look forward to working with the Department of Rural and Community Development and other stakeholders on its implementation.

What are the latest data and trends on poverty in Ireland and why is life on a low income the norm for a large proportion of our society?  Social Justice Ireland’s annual Poverty Focus examines the nature and experience of poverty in Ireland and sets out a series of policy solutions. 

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