SVP policy and advocacy work is multi-faceted and works at different levels, as we try to achieve complex systems change and ensure that the decisions made by those in government bring about positive change for the people SVP assist.
Through this work, we have had notable successes based on our advocacy work.
Budget 2019 saw a very notable success, with the announcement of a higher rate of Qualified Child Increase for older children. We had advocated for this for many years, alongside our colleagues in the Vincentian MESL Research Centre, in recognition of the additional costs facing families with older children and the higher rate of poverty experienced by older children benefiting approximately 250,000 children.
As the group most at risk of poverty in Ireland today, lone parents represent the largest group assisted by SVP and the issues and challenges facing one parent families is a key social justice priority for the Society. In 2019, SVP published a report on the living standards of lone parents in Ireland compared to the standards experienced by families in other European countries. The report drew attention to the increase in working lone parents who were living below the poverty line. The report received widespread media coverage and high levels of political engagement. In Budget 2020, extra in-work income supports were announced benefiting approximately 16,700 one parent families.
As the socioeconomic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic became apparent, SVP quickly engaged with Government and Regulators to ensure supports were in place for individuals and families on low income. As a result of this work, support was provided to help low-income households with extra energy costs through an extension of the Fuel Allowance period in March 2020, benefiting approximately 375,000 people. Engagement with the utility regulator provided extra security and support to the one-in-six households in Ireland that experience energy poverty. The payment of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment in addition to in-work supports for families who lost their jobs due to Covid-19 related closures, protected the income of 20,000 families.