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1 Debates: Poverty proofing

The issue of poverty proofing and poverty reports was raised on a number of occasions, one of a set of concerns in the area.  First, the Seanad debated an amendment under the Local government (household charge) Bill, 2011  that the household charge due on 1st January should be delayed until there was an assessment of the ability of poorer people to pay (Seanad Eireann, 7th December 2011, 153-4).  Senator Cait Keane (FG, labour) objected: she had no problem with the Social Inclusion Division of the Department of Social Protection carrying out a poverty impact analysis study or  to the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) and its surveys, but delaying the charge until that was done would put the charge on the long finger. The €100 charge was not ideal, but they had to find the money. There were exemptions, she said, for people in poverty living in local authority houses and people in poverty paying high mortgages.


David Cullinane (SF, labour) said he wanted to make it clear that his objective was that governments should start poverty-proofing its policies and there was nothing wrong with that.  We could have a whole raft of anti-poverty organizations before the house and there would be no end of senators to tell them how great they were and their work and that they empathized with them and that people should not live in poverty and so on – ‘yet when we call for a policy to be poverty-proofed, then there is something wrong with that.  We are essentially saying that if a government brings in a charge that is likely to lead to more people in poverty, then we have a difficulty with that’.  


Asked about the poverty-proofing of the 2012 budget, the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, told Michael McGrath (FF,Cork SC) that poverty proofing was normally applied as an annexe to the budget under the Guidelines for poverty impact assessment prepared by the Social Inclusion Division of the Department of Social Protection under the National Action Plan for Social Inclusion (Dail Eireann, Debates, 15th December 2011, 433).  But because there were no significant changes to income tax in either Budget 2010 or Budget 2012, no examinations were undertaken. He was aware that the department made an analysis of the distributive and poverty impact of welfare measures and this would be published shortly.  


Related to this, Gerald Nash (Lab, Louth) enquired about the annual social inclusion reports for 2009 and 2010 (Dail Eireann, Debates, 15th December 2011, 488).  The Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, told him that the third social inclusion report, covering 2009-2010, was at an advanced stage, would be finalized early in 2012 and published as soon as possible thereafter.