Read time 03 mins
Author: Tricia Kielthy
Category: Blog

Four pillars to break the cycle in Budget 2024

An important date in the social justice calendar every year is the launch of the Society’s Pre-Budget Submission. Bringing the experience of members on the ground, we aim to influence the budget process so that the choices made by Government bring about positive change for the people we assist. This includes things like ending voluntary contributions in schools, making sure child with additional needs can access assessments, or building more social and affordable homes on the scale that is needed.

This year Members and staff from across the country came to Buswells hotel across the road from Dáil Eireann on the 12th of July. Over the course of the morning we spoke to almost 30 TDs and Senators about SVP priorities for budget 2024.

Key messages

Our main message on the day was that Government must protect more people from experiencing poverty and exclusion as the cost of living continues to rise. At the same time, we need to see progress on the structural issues like income inadequacy, low pay and underfunded public services that are trapping people in the cycle of poverty.

Our recommendations are focused on 4 key pillars:

1.     Protect people’s incomes and guarantee the essentials

While one-off measures help, the failure to increase social welfare payments in line with inflation in Budget 2023 put many people at risk of being pulled further into the kind of grinding daily hardship that is very difficult to escape. We know that steps can be taken by Government in Budget 2024 to prevent and intervene where needed, to change the tide for people living in Ireland on low incomes.

At a minimum we need to ensure that the basic rate of social protection is never so low that people are unable to afford essentials such as food, utility bills, housing, transport, basic household goods and having the means to participate in our community.

2.       Prioritise children in poverty

As a society we understand that all children should have a fulfilling childhood and be given what they need in life to reach their potential.  The new Child Poverty and Well-Being Unit in the Department of An Taoiseach presents the opportunity for a coordinated and cross-departmental approach to end child poverty. Children and their families must be front and centre in Budget 2024. This must be the first step in a wider strategy to support families and break the cycle of disadvantage for children.

3.     Promote access to good quality jobs

Work is not always a route out of poverty and that’s why we need employment opportunities which support peoe to have long term and sustainable employment. This requires a recognition that access to employment relies on the strength of services such as childcare, public transport and in work income supports, as well as decent wages and conditions. For many trapped in the cycle of poverty, having the option to gain access to education and training opportunities is the first step on the road to a good job and financial stability.

4.     Prevent poverty through affordable and accessible services

A strong social protection net must go hand in hand with an investment in quality public services. Ireland is a rich country, and we must use the revenue available to build a country that lifts people out of poverty and supports the well-being of everyone in society. Windfall gains in taxes must be invested in vital infrastructure and services especially housing, energy efficiency measures, public transport, and childcare.

We know our Government are capable of reverse the rising tide of poverty and providing supports where they are needed. The design of our current system of supports is the result of a set of decisions that were made about our society’s priorities and resources. As the experience during the pandemic shows, we can redesign it to work for everyone.

The social justice team will continue to push our recommendations with policy makers right up to the October budget. We are hopeful that it will bring the positive change to set us on the right road to ending poverty in Ireland.

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