Lessons learned from the COVID-19 lockdown
The COVID-19 crisis has changed how we live our lives and, in many ways, served to highlight inefficiencies or flaws in how we have structured our society or how we conduct our business. The pandemic and subsequent lockdown has also caused many of us to re-evaluate our perspectives on how society operates, and given us new found respect for certain professions and industries. Here are some lessons we hope that policymakers have learned from this current situation.
Recovery plans must address Social Impact of COVID-19
On Friday, 8th May 2020, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) published the results of its survey on the Social Impact of COVID-19. This, as might be expected, makes for concerning reading. The self-reported well-being of the population as a result of the COVID-19 crisis was worse than in 2013, at the height of the impact of the 2008 Financial Crash, with just 12.2 per cent reporting a high life satisfaction rating in April 2020, compared to 31.4 per cent in 2013. The report highlights again the need for a new Social Contract to pave the way for recovery from the impact of COVID-19 and beyond. The impact of job losses on well-being, social inclusion and financial stress are severe and the changes in consumption, particularly the increases in alcohol and tobacco consumption, indicate a potential personal debt and health crisis that must be tackled if society is to function.
Stability Programme Update shows why economy and society must be treated equally and addressed simultaneously
All plans for recovery from the present crisis must ensure that the economy and society are treated equally and addressed simultaneously. Analysing the Stability Programme Update (SPU) recently published by Government and reflecting on the commentary on its implications, it is clear that Ireland is in danger of repeating the mistakes of the past. One of the major lessons to be learned from the crisis of 2008/9 and the subsequent recovery is that giving priority to the economy over all else simply leads to some parts of society doing very well while great swathes are left further and further behind.
Emergency Measures – Human Rights and Cost Implications - and COVID-19
Fundamental Human Rights are enshrined in our Constitution and detailed in our laws. At a time of crisis, emergency powers can be a necessary tool to ensure that society stays safe and that decisions can be made quickly to respond to emerging issues. However, the two are not mutually exclusive. Emergency powers must be proportionate, and be interpreted in the interest of human rights and the common good. They should also be time-limited to ensure that, once the crisis passes, these exceptional powers that, even necessarily, impact on our fundamental freedoms are revoked. This legislation introducing emergency powers to respond to COVID-19 confers wide-ranging powers on Government and State operators at a significant cost to the Exchequer. Here we provide a brief overview of what they are and what they are expected to cost.
Acceptance of the need for new social contract warmly welcomed
The decision to put a new social contract and a focus on the wellbeing of Irish people at the heart of the Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael Framework for a New Programme for Government is very welcome. So too is the assertion that there is no going back to the old way of doing things. The fact that the framework recognises the need for new, credible, quality-of-life measures of individual and societal wellbeing and progress, suggest that the next Programme for Government will go beyond economic priorities and targets and take a more holistic approach in its decision-making. Such a development would be very welcome.
Our response to FF-FG Framework for Government
Our initial 15-page response to the Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael Framework for a New Programme for Government welcomes some aspects of the plans, raises concerns about others, and proposes a series of specific policy initiatives that would go some distance towards achieving each of the ten mission statements set out in the Framework.
A 5-point framework for the next Programme for Government
Despite the inevitable economic aftermath of the current pandemic, the Government of the 33rd Dáil can make significant inroads into the challenges Ireland faces over the next five years. The next Programme for Government must deliver on five key areas: a vibrant economy, decent services and infrastructure, just taxation, good governance and sustainability.
Need for personal debt taskforce as thousands lose their jobs in the wake of COVID-19
In recent years overall personal indebtedness was replaced in public discourse by a focus on mortgage debt and associated solutions. However, for thousands of people, both mortgage and non-mortgage debt remain a persistent and pervasive concern. With an estimated 492,000 people likely to be out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we look at whether Irish households are any better placed to deal with over-indebtedness in 2020 than they were in 2008.
A new Social Contract
As we face into the most difficult and challenging times most of us have ever known, it is important to acknowledge that despite well documented problems and challenges, Ireland is in the privileged position of having public services and social infrastructure to rely on at a time of crisis. In the coming months, when we begin to think of the future beyond the current crisis, we need to consider how we can deliver a social contract to meet our needs in changing times?
National Social Monitor - European Edition, Spring 2020
The European Union faces many challenges in relation to healthcare, cost of housing and financial distress that will be further exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. This is one of the key findings from the National Social Monitor – European Edition. In this Spring 2020 edition of our National Social Monitor, Social Justice Ireland outlines the present situation on a range of policy issues, comparative to the rest of Europe, that impact on people’s wellbeing and looks at what policies can be introduced to support the most vulnerable.