Issue 3 - May 2010

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Departmental reorganization: work of the Social Inclusion Division, National Economic and Social Forum

The Minister for Social and Family Affairs Eamon O Cuiv confirmed to the Dail that the Social Inclusion Division of his department would transfer to the Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs, but could not yet give a date for the formal transfer of functions, as this depended on the complexity of the legislation involved (Dail Eireann, Debates, 20th April 2010, 393, 511).

At the same time, the minister told Caoimhghin O Caolain (SF, Cavan Monaghan) and David Stanton (FG, Cork E) that the Social Inclusion Division of his department was carrying out an analysis of the 2010 budget (Dail Eireann, Debates, 20th April 2010, 520-1).  This used the SWITCH integrated tax and welfare model devised by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) and would look at the combined impact of this and the two predecessor budgets.  As the ESRI had already acknowledged, the scale and complexity of the 2010 budget meant that analysis would take more time than usual, but it was expected to be finalized in the near future.  It would be published and provide an initial basis for assessing the impact on poverty of the 2010 budget.  The ESRI had already made some initial assessments of the three budgets in its quarterly economic commentary and found that whereas the average income of the poorest households had hardly changed, income for the next group increased +2%, but middle to top households experienced a loss of income.

Meantime, the Taoiseach was asked by Caoimhghin O Caolain (SF, Cavan Monaghan) about the continuation of the type of work of the now abolished National Economic and Social Forum (NESF) (Dail Eireann, Debates, 28th April 2010, 612-614).  The Taoiseach told him that the National Economic and Social Council (NESC) would further adapt its work programme to ensure that the appropriate aspects of the work of NESF were continued.  NESC had embarked on a new study of services for the unemployed and active labour market services, while it was starting work on two other projects: economic restructuring and enterprise adjustment in the crisis and service quality and provision in constrained public budgets.  Caoimhghin O Caolain asked him would NESC fulfill the same role of NESF in carrying out research and making recommendations on economic and social policy across all the policy areas that affected the daily lives of citizens.  The Taoiseach Brian Cowen told him that the role of NESC would not change considerably following the dissolution of NESC: ‘the particular experience and expertise of the staff of those two bodies who are now working within the NESC secretariat would add further dimensions to NESC’s traditional role of policy analysis’.

  • Transfer of Social Inclusion Division to Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs: Dail Eireann, Debates, 27th April 2010, 562-3