Social Justice Ireland has challenged Government to adopt a target of zero poverty by 2020 during the European Year against Poverty and Social Exclusion.

Government challenged to adopt zero poverty as target for 2020

source www.socialjustice.ie

Click on link to download full text of Social Justice Irelands Policy Briefing on Poverty

Social Justice Ireland has challenged Government to adopt a target of zero poverty by 2020. In its most recent Policy Briefing, Social Justice Ireland states that

Government needs to change direction in its approach to reducing poverty. A good starting point would be for Ireland and the EU to adopt a target of zero poverty to be reached by 2020.

This would be a very appropriate way of marking the European Year against Poverty and Social Exclusion. There are almost 615,000 people at risk of poverty in Ireland. Almost 200,000 of these are children; 116,000 are employed (these are the working poor). All of these numbers are extremely disturbing.

In its Policy Briefing, which addresses the issue of poverty, Social Justice Ireland claims that Government has forgotten the lessons that had been learned in recent years and reversed the strategies that had been reducing poverty. The Policy Briefing argues that:

increasing the lowest social welfare rates was the key to reducing poverty from 19.7% in 2003 to a record low of 13.9% in 2008. This approach was supplemented by a wide range of initiatives aimed at mobilising local communities to tackle poverty effectively in their local areas. Budget 2010 reversed this approach; it reduced welfare rates (by more than the fall in the cost of living for poor people) resulting in Irelands most vulnerable people being worse off in 2010 than in 2009; it also reduced the funding for addressing poverty and social exclusion at local level.

Government has claimed it had no choice in making the decisions it made. But this is not true. Social Justice Ireland produced a detailed set of fully-costed proposals that showed how Government could have achieved the adjustments of 4bn it sought in Budget 2010 without reducing social welfare rates and without cutting the funding for organisations and programmes addressing poverty and social exclusion.

Recent changes in direction by Government are even more regrettable given that 2010 is the EU Year against Poverty and Social Exclusion. It is now likely that Ireland will mark this year by increasing poverty and social exclusion.

Proposals for Government

In its Policy Briefing Social Justice Ireland proposes that if Government is to reduce poverty in the period immediately ahead it should:

  • Stop targeting Irelands most vulnerable people and improve their situation, not worsen it as they did in Budget 2010.
  • Recognise the problem of the working poor and adopt policies to address the situation of the 39.6% of all households in poverty which are headed by a person with a job.
  • Provide substantial new measures to address the threat of long-term unemployment among those recently unemployed. This should include programmes aimed at re-training and re-skilling those at highest risk.
  • Set a target of zero poverty to be achieved by 2020. Advocate that this target be adopted by the European Union as part of its actions to mark the European Year against Poverty and Social Exclusion (2010).
  • Address family poverty.
  • Adopt a new approach to measuring deprivation – one that uses regularly updated indicators reflective of society as it currently is.
  • Accept that persistent poverty should be used as the primary indicator of poverty measurement once this data becomes available.
  • Move towards introducing a basic income system. All initiatives in the areas of income and work should constitute positive moves towards the introduction of a full basic income guarantee system.
  • Continue to honour the NAPinclusion and Towards 2016 commitment that the lowest social welfare payment for a single person will be benchmarked to 30 per cent of GAIE (gross average industrial earnings) from 2007-2016.
  • Move towards introducing a basic income system. All initiatives in the areas of income and work should constitute positive moves towards the introduction of a full basic income guarantee system.

Social Justice Ireland

Social Justice Ireland has taken over the work of the Justice office of the Conference of Religious of Ireland (CORI).

The work of CORI Justice has developed in recent years to involve many local groups and individuals throughout Ireland. The establishment of Social Justice Ireland is a logical step to reflect this broader involvement beyond the members of religious congregations. The new structure will reflect this development and will consolidate the work across the various categories of activity into the future.

Membership of Social Justice Ireland is open to individuals (religious and lay) and to groups (organisations and congregations etc.) who support the basic thrust of the values and work that form the core of Social Justice Ireland.

Further information on the new organisation is available on their website www.socialjustice.ie