Issue 2 - April 2010

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Work of the new Social Inclusion Division

Jack Wall (Lab, Kildare S) enquired about the activities of the new integrated Social Inclusion Division currently in the Department of Social and Family Affairs (Dail Eireann, Debates, 1st April 2010, 353-4).  The minister, Eamon O Cuiv told him that there was now an enhanced capacity for research and data.  One of the functions of the division under its 2009-2011 strategic plan was to coordinate quantitative and qualitative research from monitoring and evaluative processes in new and emerging poverty risks, with an enhanced role for high quality research to support government strategies, seeking to make the best use of internal and external capacity.  Research undertaken would be published in a timely manner in collaboration and consultation with the social partners, including the community and voluntary pillar and other bodies such as the National Economic and Social Council.  The main elements of the research programme were:

- Analysis of the Survey on Income and Living Conditions with the Central Statistics Office and the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), finalizing with ESRI a report on poverty trends for 2004-7 on children, people of working age and older people;

- Development and reporting of indicators to monitor the National Action Plan for Social Inclusion, 2007-2016, undertaken through a technical advisory group of experts, government departments and social partners;

- Analysis of the impact and effectiveness of policy on poverty and social exclusion (e.g. review of effectiveness of domestic efficiency programmes);

- Support for independent research studies, examples of recent reports being on active citizenship in Dublin Docklands, public private partnerships in housing, early school leaving, lone parents, private rented sector, medical card eligibility and financial difficulties for those living below the poverty line.

Two research seminars were planned as part of the 2010 European year for combating poverty and social exclusion, the furst to examine Irish poverty rates in a European context (with the ESRI), the second to review indicators to monitor progress on poverty, being undertaken with the technical advisory group.

Dealing with the facilities formerly occupied by the Combat Poverty Agency, the Minister for Social & Family Affairs, Eamon O Cuiv, told Roisin Shortall that his department intended, without penalty, to break the lease on its offices in March 2011 (Dail Eireann, Debates, 25th March 2010, 666-7).  The agency had been closed following the government decision on 6th June 2007 to undertake a review.   When asked again by Jack Wall (Lab, Kildare S), the Minister for Social and Family Affairs Eamon O Cuiv told the Dail that the annual rent was €228,000 with a service charge of €27,000.  There were 26 staff in the new Social Inclusion Division on the date of the commencement order.  There were now 20.  Savings as a result of integration came from board member fees, accommodation and those that arose from the integration of support services such as personnel and payroll.  Savings also arose from not filling a number of short-term temporary staff positions and the redeployment of a small number of administrative and human resources staff (Dail Eireann, Debates, 1st April 2010, 352-3).