Issue 17 - June 2011

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Poverty: impact study to be done ahead of 2012 budget

Tús trialled
The new Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, outlined to John Halligan (ind, Waterford) her proposals on how to address poverty, currently affecting 14.1% of the population (Dail Eireann, Debates, 10th May 2011, 748-750). The priority of the government, she told him was about getting the economy moving and the success of its economic plans would lay the foundation for the rest of its agenda. The memorandum of understanding with the EU-ECB-IMF did not provide for specific cuts to child benefit, disability allowances, or other social welfare payments, but the aim of the memorandum was to ensure that public finances were sustainable, so the state must pursue a determined deficit reduction strategy, which would impact on spending across all departments, including hers. The government was committed to tackling Ireland’s economic crisis in a fair and balanced way that recognized the need for social solidarity. She drew attention to and gave figures on the role of social transfers in combatting poverty. There was an ongoing need to curtail spending in 2012 and later. The comprehensive review of spending would be completed by September.

John Halligan drew attention to cuts in welfare, those who could not afford breakfast and the situation of children living in poverty. Joan Burton told him that she shared his concern and she reiterated the commitment of the government on social welfare rates, but resources were constrained. Before the 2012 budget, there would be a poverty impact study. The most important anti-poverty strategy would be to get people who were unemployed through no fault of their own back into a job.

Separately, she told Eamon O Cuiv (FF, Galway W) that her department had carried out two trials to develop the new €30m community work placement initiative, Tús (Dail Eireann, Debates, 10th May 2011, 901-2).