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Poverty impact assessments

Asked about poverty impact assessments, the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, told Stephen Donnelly (ind, Wicklow) and Thomas Broughan (ind, Dublin NE) that the programme for government gave a clear commitment to require public bodies to take note of equality and human rights; that proposals put to government must indicate clearly any impact on gender equality, poverty, social exclusion or disability (Dail Eireann, Debates, 27th November 2012, 365).  A distributional analysis of the budget was carried out every year and Ireland had been consistently rated highly for the progressivity of its taxation system by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).  Ireland was rated at 182, the highest EU member of the OECD, whilst most countries were between 120 and 140.  Earlier, he stated that the overall distributional pattern of Irish austerity measures was among the most progressive of six EU countries examined by the European Commission (Dail Eireann, Debates, 15th November 2012, 110-111). 


Mary Lou McDonald (SF, Dublin C) drew the attention of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform to the austerity measures already introduced (Dail Eireann, Debates, 21st November 2012, 391-2): the 2012 budget had hit disproportionately those on lowest incomes.  For example, with cuts in back to school and footwear allowances, ‘the minister cannot take these kinds of decisions and then claim that he has done any kind of meaningful equality audit’.  Will he, quite simply, carry out an equality audit?  The minister, Brendan Howlin, drew attention to the increase in capital taxes, the taking of 300,000 people out of the universal social charge net, the restoration of the minimum wage and the maintenance of social welfare rates.  There were no soft options and if the budget is to be downsized when 80% of spending goes to three areas that affect vulnerable people, then it is difficult not to have an impact, but the government will act in as fair, balanced and considered way as possible.