EAPN Ireland and its members (ATD is one of them) have welcomed measures announced in Budget 2015 to undo some of the cuts in income and services which have devastated the lives of people on low income since 2008.
This now needs to be part of a more systematic medium-term plan to rebuild Ireland’s public services and welfare system and access to decent work.
EAPN Ireland welcomed the changes to the Universal Social Charge, the Qualified Child Increase, Child Benefit and partial restoration of the Christmas bonus. They also welcomed new resources for construction of social housing, to address homelessness and to recruit new teachers, including Special Needs Assistants and Resource Teachers.
Extra measures to reduce the cost of water charges for some people dependent on social welfare are an improvement, but the charges as currently structured will still impact disproportionately on low income families.
Robin Hanan, Director of EAPN Ireland said: “We must not forget the damage caused by the last six years. One in four people in Ireland, and a third or all children, are officially counted as experiencing ‘deprivation’, a number which doubled in three years. Because of the crisis and austerity policies, many people have been driven deeper into poverty and the measures today begin to address the damage that has been done.
“We welcome the establishment of the Low Pay Commission and propose that we also urgently need to develop a comprehensive plan to address poverty and build an inclusive and equal society where everyone can live with dignity’.
“Building an inclusive society involves the funding of high quality public services and decent social welfare supports. This has to be funded through a progressive tax system. Giving valuable tax resources away to those on higher incomes undermines this goal and raids the resources needed.
“As Minister Noonan says, we have clear choices, but for us the most important choice is about where we are going. Back to a divided society with unacceptable poverty or forward to an inclusive society.
“It’s time to map out the road not yet travelled towards a more equal and inclusive society.”
To Contact EAPN Ireland: Robin Hanan, Director, 087-2386243 or Paul Ginnell, Policy Officer, 087-6402200