The previous year has been filled with headlines of continuing economic recovery and falling unemployment figures. In stark contrast with this however, are the continuing rise of those who are homeless, spiralling rents, and increasing costs of education at all levels.
The experience of SVP members is that those seeking our help have yet to experience the benefit of recent economic improvements. Our members regularly visit individuals and families who are experiencing the stress and challenge of insecure tenancies, the threat of homelessness, and making do in poor quality and inadequate housing. The long-standing problems of low income, coupled with the costs of education and energy, and lack of services, have made life more challenging for an increasing number of households, both in and out of work.
While the political and social landscape has changed dramatically since SVP began operating in Ireland in 1844, given the current challenges facing the country today – the words of our blessed founder, Fredrick Ozanam, remain relevant:
“The question which is agitating the world today is a social one. It is a struggle between those who have nothing and those who have too much. It is a violent clash of opulence and poverty which is shaking the ground under our feet.”
The inequalities of past and present will deepen unless we address the current deficits in our public services and infrastructure. It is vital that equality is central to budgetary decisions. SVP is calling on the government to prioritise the necessary investment to address the urgent needs in housing, education, energy efficiency measures as well as targeted income supports for those at the margins of society. Now is the time for Government to bridge the gaps to ensure the rewards of economic growth are shared among all people.