In June the Society of St Vincent de Paul launched its Pre Budget Submission 2020, with the theme of “Investing in a just society”. SVP is emphasizing the need to make the fight against poverty a priority in Budget 2020, highlighting the need to invest in public services and income supports over tax cuts to move us in the right direction. 25,000 children were lifted out of consistent poverty between 2016 and 2017, largely due to improvements in income supports and falling unemployment, demonstrating that with the right policy decisions, progress can be made.
However, more needs to be done. In 2018, SVP received more than 160,000 requests for assistance and spent around €500,000 every week helping individuals and families with the cost of food, fuel, housing and education. We still have more than 760,000 people living below the poverty line, and over 71,000 households waiting for social housing. SVP members report an emerging issue of in-work poverty, with many of those we assist being unable to make ends meet in spite of having a job, mainly because of low pay and high housing, energy and education costs.
Based on the experiences of our members and the people we assist, our Pre Budget Submission outlines the following 5 key objectives and a number of policy recommendations for Budget 2020, which, if implemented, would make a difference in the lives of people who are struggling across Ireland:
Benchmark the National Minimum Wage and social welfare payments against the cost of a Minimum Essential Standard of Living.
- Primary and secondary education should be provided free at the point of access to all children and young people.
- Energy poverty and climate justice:
- Meet our climate commitments by setting an ambitious target to eliminate energy poverty by 2030.
- Pursue a housing-led approach to the housing and homelessness crisis by increasing the delivery of social housing along with affordable and secure rental accommodation
- Adequately resource Sláintecare, working towards a universal, high quality and accessible health system.
We all rely on publicly funded services and supports like schools, hospitals, transport, roads and our social welfare system at different times in our lives. Budget 2020 is an opportunity to strengthen these supports to make sure that everybody can live a life with dignity, free from poverty.