The Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) has welcomed the thrust of today's budget but says that it is only giving back a small element of the losses Irish people have endured in recent years and could have been more targeted.
SVP is pleased at the investment announced in reducing USC for low paid workers, increasing the statutory minimum wage, increasing the fuel allowance, the increase in FIS income threshold and the earnings disregard for lone parents on jobseekers transitional payment.
Today's major changes to the early years care and education sector is also very welcome, it says. "It should result in immediate impact for young families; particularly the additional 8,000 places in the Community Childcare Subvention Scheme which improves supply to those families who need access to quality provision. Extending the free Pre-School to three year olds and introducing two weeks of paternity leave from next September means that Ireland is moving towards building an ECCE sector on par with other European countries. Supporting families in the first critical years of a child's life reaps long-term social and economic returns. The restoration in capitation rates for providers should result in more emphasis on quality service provision and the funding of specific quality measures is also a welcome indicator that Government listened to us."
On the other hand SVP says that the current limits placed by the Department of Social Protection on the private rents that can be paid by tenants in receipt of Rent Supplement/Housing Assistance Payment is causing homelessness and is not allowing families to escape homelessness. SVP is anxious to see DSP increase the RS/HAP limits to meet market rents.
SVP is also disappointed that there was no mention of Rent Certainty in the private rented sector, despite the Minister’s insistence that we will not be going back to boom and bust. A functioning private rented sector needs certainty for tenants, landlords and also to attract investors.
"Minister Howlin in his Budget speech said he would invest in critical service provision to meet future population increases. The capital funding allocated by Government for 2016-2020 Strategy does not provide even sufficient funding to stand still. There are at least 89,000 households in need of social housing, as last measured in 2013; The Government’s Social Housing 2020 only provides for 35,000 new homes, and it is far too slow in being implemented. SVP wants to see the 20,000 NAMA units announced in today’s Budget being social and affordable homes.
"The commitment to investment echoes the SVP’s Pre-Budget Submission for 2016 entitled "Investing In What Matters". We said that Government should invest in a level and type of social provision that will ensure greater participation for low-income households in the economic recovery, and break the cycle of poverty and inter-generational disadvantage facing many people the SVP assist. That we believe would be a fitting legacy for celebrating 1916. #1916
For reference contact Jim Walsh (087) 2541700