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Category: News

National Economic Dialogue: SVP analysis & solutions

As part of its work in advocating for social justice issues with policy makers, SVP took part in the National Economic Dialogue event in Dublin Castle over two days in June, represented by Hazel O’Byrne who has recently joined the Social Justice and Policy Team.

The National Economic Dialogue is part of the government’s preparation for the budget and is attended by a number of cabinet ministers, including An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure Pascal Donoghue and Minister for Employment and Social Protection, Regina Doherty as well as senior civil servants.

The event offers the opportunity for organisations with wide range of interests to present their analysis of current economic and social circumstances their perspectives and what they see as the priority issues for this year’s budget. Speakers at the event include representatives of workers, employers, farmers, environmental groups and social concerns.

While the event overall emphasised the improvements economy and their projected continuation, SVP used its time to remind participants that for all the talk of growth, there remain tens of thousands of people throughout the country who have felt little or no impact from recovery.  We encouraged decision-makers to prioritise equality and also outlined some specific proposals from the pre-budget submission to address inequality. Below is an extract of SVP contribution at the event.

“SVP members visit households every week where the concept of economic recovery is extremely remote. The reality that many families and individuals experience continues to be one of inadequate income from work or social welfare, rising rents and insecure tenancies, poor quality housing, unavailability of employment and costly or inaccessible services with the consequent stress and anxiety that this creates.

We know, unfortunately all too well, that trickle-down economics and the theory of a rising tide lifting all boats are fallacy. However, at a policy and decision-making level, the beginnings of improvements in economic circumstances nationally do allow for discussion and exploration of the choices that are available to us as a country about how the benefits of recovery are prioritised and who in society gains.  The message of SVP is that we must ensure that values of inclusion, equality and social justice underpin and guide those considerations and decisions.

This means that investment in chronically underfunded services like childcare and education, housing and social protection, must take precedence for the allocation of resources.

Some specific choices that could be made to realise these values, and that would make a significant difference to many families in Ireland, were outlined in SVP’s pre-budget submission and include:

  • first and foremost, prioritise investing in social housing provision; and until that becomes available, increase rent supplement and housing assistance payments to more adequately meet market rents;
  • we need to invest in quality early childhood care and education as a public good, recognising the full costs of quality provision; similarly, with primary and second level education we need to fully cover the costs of provision of these essential services;
  • another key measure to tackle child and family poverty, is to increase earnings disregards for lone parents returning to work, in acknowledgement that this is the family type most at risk of poverty;
  • adjust Qualified Child Increases to social welfare payments for parents of older children to better reflect costs for families with teenagers.”

SVP emphasised that tackling exclusion should not be considered an optional extra and that with sufficient determination and vision, it is possible to address poverty and inequality and build for a more sustainable and inclusive future.

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