Budget 2011 Responses from Other Organisations

The Wheel invites other community and voluntary organisations - big or small - and other representative bodies to submit their own Budget 2011 responses to us for publication on this website.

Email your organisations Budget 2011 response to paul@wheel.ie. Submissions should be in summary form and should also include a link to your organisations website / communication details. Responses will be published as they become available.
 
Note: these budget responses are from organisations only. However, we do invite individuals to comment on our Blogging the Budget blogs (here and here).
 

Budget 2011 Responses


Society of St. Vincent de Paul budget view

Unfair and damaging to those in need

This budget is riddled with unfairness and inequity to a point which beggars belief. It is clear that those on social welfare payments and in low paid work will pay disproportionately more than the better off who in some cases will end up paying less than they did before this budget.

Once-off Fuel Allowance Payment An Insult
The €40 once-off payment for households already entitled to fuel allowance is an insult to all those in fuel poverty. In Budget 2010 the Government promised that new revenue raised by the introduction of a Carbon Tax would be ring-fenced, with a reasonable proportion set aside to compensate the poorest households from the adverse effects of this additional charge. In November, after months of posturing, the Government admitted it had no intention to fulfil it’s promise and added insult to injury by announcing that the Carbon Tax would be doubled within the next few years.
 
SVP spent almost € 6 Million in 2009 on household energy costs and arrears alone. We have also waited over a year for the promised ‘Energy Affordability’ strategy. Instead, the fuel poor received broken promises, energy cost increases, delays in the roll-out of energy efficiency measures and a derisory once off payment – and not all in energy poverty will get this payment anyway.
 
It is also worth noting that while the Government was trumpeting the €40m one–off fuel allowance payment it was more circumspect about the fact that it also intended cutting € 30 million, every year from now on, from the household benefits package in terms of free units for energy and telephone usage for eligible households.  Once again the fuel poor are losers in the Government budget.
 
Social Welfare – an easy target
Social Welfare reductions will do long term damage to the lives of those living on the lowest incomes. The cumulative effect of an €8 cut in the adult rate and an extra €2 Rent Supplement contribution will cut deeply into people’s ability to make ends meet.  In particular, vulnerable groups such as lone parents will find themselves living on less money while their children will continue to suffer.
 
The cumulative effect of cuts to social welfare, the minimum wage, the introduction of the Universal Social Charge and the reduction of tax credits mean that every week:
 
  • A lone parent with two children in receipt of the One Parent Family Payment will experience a drop of €11.84  in their income.
  • A lone parent with one child working 19 hrs per week on the reduced National Minimum Wage will be worse off by €10
  • A couple with two children in receipt of Jobseekers Benefit will experience a drop of €17.91  in their income
  • A married couple with two children, one working full time and one part time on the reduced NMW will be worse off by €68.06 .
  • A single person working full time (39 hrs) on the reduced National Minimum Wage will be worse off by €44.18 .
Blighted childhoods
In Budget 2010 thankfully the poorest children were shielded when the targeted Qualified Child Increase payment and the Family Income Supplement were increased to protect them from the cuts to Child Benefit.  Unbelievably, in this budget these children have been left exposed to even greater hardship.  The crude cut in Child Benefit rates of €10 per child and €20 for the 3rd child will create further misery and erode hope for these families.  In 2009 there were almost 92,000 children living out their childhoods in deprivation, and this number is now set to explode with this budget’s callous cuts.
 
Tax changes and Universal Social Charge (USC) add an inequitable burden
The taxation changes along with the introduction of the new universal social charge (USC) mean that the pay of those on the lowest incomes is being cut substantially more than those of well off households in real terms.  For example a couple on a very generous income of €250,000 who previously paid 11% of their income on the combined income and health levy now pay 7% or just €75 a week while an unemployed couple living in emergency accommodation with two children and receiving supplementary welfare allowance will see their weekly income drop by €22 per week.
 
The USC charge replaces the income levy which was payable on incomes of more than  €15,300 and the health levy previously payable on incomes of over €26,000.  
 
From January 2011 the USC is payable on incomes over €4,004 as follows:
  • Between €4,004 and €10,036 at 2%
  • Between €10,037 and €16,010 at  4%
  • Over €16,016 at 7%
The SVP considers most unjust the fact that this new charge will be payable on all earned incomes, apart from social welfare payments, over €4,000.  The effect of placing the USC on such low incomes will be to deepen the poverty experienced by those in work on low pay – the ‘working poor’.
 
In addition to the reductions caused by the USC, the erosion of tax credits and lowering of the income threshold at which lower paid workers begin to pay tax at the higher rate , will result in many more people struggling on substantially reduced pay.  Both the PRSI and the personal tax credits have been reduced by 10% which means an additional €7 a week in tax.

SVP is also concerned at the €1 reduction in the National Minimum Wage which means a drop of €2,080 a year on a 40 hour week. While the Government protests that the drop in the NMW only applies to new workers SVP knows that in reality this will mean more stress and less money and security for these workers.  SVP is appalled at this decision.

Education – a route to recovery and a sustainable society
While education may seem to have escaped draconian cuts, SVP knows that in reality the changes will put further pressure on those least able to pay.  Families with primary pupils in rural areas are now being asked to pay  €50 per year for school transport and an additional €50 (to a maximum of €650 per family) is being sought for secondary pupils, in addition to existing charges to families with children in school education.

SVP is concerned at the reduction of 5% to various parts of the education budget which supports disadvantaged pupils such as Traveller children, those at risk of Early School Leaving via the School Completion Programme, Youthreach and the National Educational Welfare Board.  These programmes work with vulnerable children and young people where any diminution in the service will result in greater disengagement of very marginalised groups of children from educational opportunities.

Increasing the third level student service charge from €1,500 to €2,000 will put third level education outside the reach of more low income families.  This will have a long term negative effect on a generation of young people who will now be consigned to a bleaker, tougher future struggling to access third level education.

It might have been even worse
SVP welcomes some aspects of Budget 2011 in particular the abolition of the PRSI ceiling which will generate more revenue; the protection of the universal Pre-School Scheme; and no further increases to either the Accident and Emergency fee or the Drug Payment Scheme.

We remain deeply concerned, however, at the enormous and unfair burden put on those least able to shoulder it.  SVP fears that we will quickly see the living standards of the most vulnerable, particularly the poorest children, drop below a level of commonly held decency.  We reject the reasoning behind these unfair decisions and fear that 2011 will be too tough a year for too many.
 
 

Focus Ireland

Savage Budget Cuts Will Lead to Increase in Homelessness

Focus Ireland has warned that the savage cuts made in Budget 2011 will force more people to become homeless and will also act to keep many of the 5,000 people who are currently homeless trapped living in limbo in long-term homelessness. Today’s budget slashed a massive 36% cut in the social housing budget and a substantial 6% cut in funding for HSE regions.
 
This means €300million less for social housing provision in 2011 at a time when social housing waiting lists are increasingly dramatically and €400million less for HSE bodies that fund, among other services, those for people who are homeless.
 
The charity said that sweeping cuts across welfare payments and funding for services & housing will increase the hardship of many thousands of the most vulnerable families and single people in society.
 
Focus Ireland CEO Joyce Loughnan said: “Today’s budget will penalise people who are homeless in three separate ways. They will have their already meagre incomes cut forcing them further into poverty. The providers of homeless services will see a reduction in their funding at a time when demand for those services is on the increase.”
 
“And the massive 36% cut in the social housing budget will condemn those trapped in emergency accommodation to long-term homelessness with little hope of moving on to a home. “
 
She added: ‘Taken together these cuts will cause a severe deepening of the homeless problem across the country and puts in doubt the future viability of the Governments own homeless strategy. The Government and opposition parties must realise this road makes no sense as these funding cuts - and the continued lack of provision of housing - will mean that people who are ready to move on from being homeless will be forced to remain in expensive emergency accommodation.”
 
 

Social Justice Ireland

Unjust choices rob the poor, protect gamblers, damage the economy

 
Budget 2011 is unjust, unfair and unacceptable.The choices made will rob the poor to protect people and institutions who caused many of Ireland’s problems
through their reckless gambling with banks. It will seriously damage Ireland’s economy, social services and infrastructure. Poor people will be the big losers as a result of the decisions made by Government in this Budget. 
 
The working poor, low income families with children and people on social welfare will see their poverty deepen or will be pushed into poverty. People depending on public services will be seriously disadvantaged as these services decline and the cost of accessing them will put them beyond the reach of many. On the other hand, the rich and powerful, including
senior bond holders and the corporate sector, will be the main beneficiaries
in that they are not required either to pay for their misdeeds or to make a contribution towards Ireland’s rescue.
 
The Minister for Finance claimed that Ireland is continuing “to work off the excesses of the boom”. While accusations of excess could be levelled at some of the people who created the mess Ireland now finds itself in, it cannot
be truthfully applied to Ireland’s poor people. Likewise, it is misleading
for the Minister to point to the increases in welfare rates in recent years to justify their reduction in Budget 2011.
 
An analysis of the past quarter century shows that the better off have benefited far more than the working poor or those depending on welfare payments. For example the net, take-home, income of a Government Minister in 2011 (after the current budget changes are implemented) will be €1,034 a
WEEK higher than it was in 1986. On the other hand the take-home income of a person in receipt of jobseekers benefit will have risen by only €136. This cannot justify a decrease in social welfare rates. 
 
 
 

Irish Rural Link

IRL critical of Anti Rural Budget

Irish Rural Link has criticised Budget 2011 as “anti-rural”. Rural areas have suffered a greater number of job losses and outward migration than urban areas, and therefore will take longer to recover from new austerity measures.

Among the measures impacting most heavily on rural areas are cuts to the rural transport programme, carbon taxes and inadequate fuel allowances, lower incomes and social welfare rates including the rural social scheme and community employment, and higher school transport fees including a €50 charge for primary school.
 
Seamus Boland, CEO of Irish Rural Link said that this budget will increase instances of rural poverty due to an increased cost in living and reduced incomes for those previously at risk of poverty. 
 
He said cost increases in petrol, carbon tax and school transport costs will pose difficulty for many households already struggling to meet their outgoings as transport is already more expensive for rural households due to the absence of public transport.*
 
Helen Dunne, policy & communications officer with Irish Rural Link said that substantial cuts to the budget of the Department of Community & Equality Affairs are expected to lead to job losses in administration and caretaking in community organisations as the Minister has said that front line services will be prioritised.
 
The full impact of cuts in this sector will not be known until the new year. However, it has been confirmed that existing projects and programmes will be affected. Many of the projects and programmes which will be affected by cuts provide essential community services in rural areas and assistance to the elderly.
 
Read the full IRL budget analysis by clicking here.
 
 

National Women's Council of Ireland
 

LENIHAN'S BUDGET IS BAD FOR WOMEN, BAD FOR CHILDREN, BAD FOR THE ECONOMY, SAYS NATIONAL WOMEN'S COUNCIL OF IRELAND.

 
Faced with cuts to child benefit, many low paid women will be forced to decide if they can afford to stay in the workforce. Families in this country pay exceptionally high childcare costs and they rely on child benefit to pay it. The cut is also bad for children, almost 100,000 of whom already live in poverty. That shameful figure will rise because there is no protective measure for those on low incomes or welfare. This cut is anti-women and anti-children.
 
To make matters worse, social welfare is to be cut. More women than men rely on means tested social welfare payments, so the cuts for working age people will affect more women. Single adults will suffer an €8 weekly cut, couples a cut of €13.20.
 
The Minister for Finance boasted of his government's commitment to cutting the minimum wage. It is a cod to say that those on the reduced minimum wage will be kept out of the tax net. They will have to pay the new Universal Social Charge. Over 60% of those on the minimum wage are women, so they will bear the brunt of a further cut which will have no impact on overall competitiveness or unemployment. 
 
"With little support from the government, women made a huge contribution to Ireland's economic growth. Even the IMF recognised that women are needed for Ireland's recovery. This budget ignores that fact. It is bad for women, bad for children, bad for the economy," said National Women's Council chief executive, Susan McKay.
 
 

Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed
 

Budget makes Ireland colder place for unemployed

 
In today's Budget, the Government had an opportunity to give priority to tackling unemployment and getting people back to work and give hope to the 438,000 people currently on the live register. The Government also had an opportunity to protect the most vulnerable in society and to maintain the incomes of people who rely on social welfare.
 
Instead, the Government has decided to again punish unemployed people for their very unemployment by cutting welfare payments and other key social supports.
 
This budget makes Ireland a much colder place for unemployed people and today's announcements clearly demonstrate that the Government's priority is to continue to make unemployed people pay for the mistakes of others said John Stewart, INOU Co-ordinator. Cutting the basic rate of social welfare by €8 a week will have huge implications for people who are desperately struggling to make ends meet and this cut, coupled with the reductions in child benefit, will simply drive people deeper into poverty John concluded.
 
The INOU has consistently called on the Government to invest resources to tackle the unemployment crisis and get people back to work. The Budget has not delivered the type of comprehensive jobs strategy required to seriously tackle unemployment. Whilst the additional 15,000 labour market activation places are to be welcomed, this additional allocation is insufficient given the scale of the current crisis. 
 
 

Press release from Respond!

More families will be at risk of poverty following today's budget

Ireland’s largest housing association has expressed disapointment at today’s budget which they claim disproportionately affects the most vulnerable in Irish society. Respond! Housing Association maintains that cuts to social welfare and child benefit will inflict further hardship on families. The housing charity believes today’s budget will put more families and children at risk of poverty. 

According to Respond! Housing Association spokesperson Aoife Walsh, the lower paid and those in receipt of social welfare will be left devastated by today’s budget. 
 
“What the Minister achieved with this budget is a widening of the gap between the rich and the poor. For the second year in row, those in receipt of social welfare have seen their payments reduced. The new supplementary welfare allowance payment of €186 is now more than €38 below the poverty line of €224.75. We know from the recent CSO Survey on Income and Living Conditions that nearly one third of all families were unable to put meat on the dinner table, heat the family home adequately or buy new clothes of furniture. This budget means that this number will now increase dramatically in the coming months.”
 
Respond! has also expressed concern at the effect this budget will have on children in Irish society. The reduction in child benefit of €10 for the first and second child, and €20 for the third child, will according to the charity, force many families on the margins over the edge. 
 
The housing charity is also disappointed at the Minister’s decision to increase the amount those in recipt of rent supplement will be forced to pay. Respond! believes reform of the rent supplement system is required as the number of people relying on rent supplement has increased rapidly in recent years. However, Respond! contends that savings could be made by the State through Local Authorities directly negotiating with landlords, as it does for the Rental Accommodation Scheme.
 
 

Press release from Barnardos

No Bailout for Children as Government Digs Deep into Families’ Pockets

 
Dublin, 7 December 2010 – Children and families have been cast adrift by Budget 2011. Responding to the budget announcement, children’s charity Barnardos said it has considerable fear for thousands of children whose families will now be pushed deeper into deprivation and poverty. 
 
Fergus Finlay, Barnardos’ CEO, said: “Budget 2011 clearly demonstrates the ongoing indifference of this Government to the plight of those struggling to survive in Ireland. The budget not only front loaded the cuts we are to expect for the next five years, it also loaded them onto the backs of those least able to take the weight; children and families already living in poverty or standing on the knife edge of it.”
 
“Minister Brian Lenihan defended cuts to social welfare by stating that increases in payments over the boom time were ahead of inflation. He failed to mention that the number of children living in consistent poverty increased by 26,684 between 2008 and 2009. 91,954 childhoods are now blighted by poverty and all the things that entails. The Government’s own statistics tell us that children are already struggling with poverty and disadvantage. How many more have to join their ranks before their voices are heard and they become a political priority?” 
 
Norah Gibbons, Barnardos’ Director of Advocacy, said: “Poor children live in poor households. The 4% cut to adult social welfare payments and €5.30 cut to the Qualified Adult payment on top of last year’s €8 cut will mean that many children will go without one full meal every week. Added to this the €10 and €20 cut to Child Benefit will make fundamentals like heat and electricity difficult to pay for many families. Child Benefit was the Government’s own tool of choice for tackling child poverty over the past ten years. Children living in disadvantage will be disproportionately affected by the cuts to Child Benefit. Families struggling to get by on meagre incomes are now facing the prospect of trying to trim budgets that have no fat. We would question the logic of taking so much money out of families that they are pushed further into debt and poverty. People cannot spend what they do not have and Ireland cannot recover if no one is spending.” 
 
Barnardos said it has already seen a stark increase in the number of families struggling to cope on lower incomes over the past two years. Mr. Finlay said: “Families are struggling with every day costs such as food, heat and rent. Unpaid bills are common and the threat of being cut off from essential services such as heat and gas is significant. Children are going hungry. There is no doubt in our minds that this Budget is going to add to their ranks and make more children’s lives unbearably hard.”

http://www.barnardos.ie


Press Release from European Anti Poverty Network Ireland

Government needs to publish detailed report on poverty impact of Budget 2011

Tuesday , 7th December: The Government needs to publish a detailed report on the poverty impact of Budget 2011 which it is committed to carry out in its own National Action Plan for Social Inclusion. This is the same Plan which commits to eradicating consistent poverty by 2016 but the measures released this afternoon by the Government will go a long way towards driving more people deeper into poverty.
 
Paul Ginnell, Policy and Support Worker with EAPN Ireland, stated that 'while we know that the measures announced today will substantially increase poverty in the country we are demanding that the Government produce a detailed poverty impact assessment to explain the real impact of the decisions the Minister for Finance announced today. All they have published so far is a brief statement justifying what they had already decided to do'.
 
Budget 2011 includes increased tax on those on lower incomes, a reduction of €10 per week in all welfare payments apart from the state pension and a reduction of Child benefits by €10 per month with an additional cut of €10 for a third child. Also signalled is the €1 reduction in the minimum wage. All of these measures, alongside cuts to essential services have a direct impact on the most vulnerable which the Government has stated it is committed to protecting.
 
Statistics released last week by the Central Statistics Office ( CSO) for 2009 show that levels of consistent poverty rose from 4.2% in 2008 to 5.5% while the numbers unable to afford basic requirements went up by 25%.  This is even before the impact of cuts in Budget 2010 are taken into account. In addition to this CSO data shows that according to the Consumer Price Indexprices have risen by 2% in 2010. In light of these statistics the Government’s Budget will result in even greater poverty for people.
 
Mr Ginnell concluded that 'as we come to the end of the 2010 European Year Against Poverty and Social Exclusion we must question the type of society that we are to become where even more people are being forced to live on the very margins of society. Alternatives proposed by organisations such as the Community Platform, TASC ,Claiming our Future and UNITE have been ignored'.

Notes:

The link to the full Budgetary Measures is available here.

The Statistics on Income and Living Conditions as released by the CSO on Thursday the 25th of November can be viewed here

For more information or to arrange interviews contact:

Paul Ginnell
Policy and Support Worker
European Anti Poverty Network Ireland
087 640 2200
paul@eapn.ie
 

News release from IMPACT trade union 

Predictable budget is recipe for continued financial and economic crisis says IMPACT

IMPACT trade union today (Tuesday) said the budget was a recipe for continued financial and economic failure, which would disproportionately hit the living standards of those on low and middle incomes.

Pledging to campaign to resist cuts in the minimum wage and social welfare, IMPACT general secretary Shay Cody said Ireland needed an alternative approach that put jobs and economic stimulation at the centre of economic policy.

“By taking yet more money from those on low and middle incomes – be they workers, welfare recipients or pensioners – the Government is guaranteeing that we won’t grow out of the financial crisis. Instead, the Government’s vicious circle of economic decline will continue as consumer demand falls further, creating more unemployment and further declines in tax revenue.”

Mr Cody also attacked the decision to raise taxes through bands and levies rather than headline tax rates. “This is the most regressive way of increasing taxes as it hits those on lower incomes relatively harder. It is a political decision to load the extra tax burden on ordinary people instead of those on higher incomes,” he said.

Mr Cody said cuts to the minimum wage and social welfare were additional attacks on low income families, as was the decision to further cut pay for new public service staff. “IMPACT and other unions will strongly resist the cuts in the minimum wage and social welfare which, coupled with an additional tax burden, will impoverish tens of thousands. Meanwhile, pay for new public servants – predominantly those on the lowest pay - will now be almost 25% lower than it was less than two years ago,” he said.

He rejected ill-informed criticism that public servants had been shielded from the effects of the budget. “Public service pay has already been cut by over 14% in less than two years. And the tax changes in today’s budget will hit public servants in the exact same way as everyone else, just as they did in 2009 and 2010,” he said.

Further information

Bernard Harbor – 087-230-1262

Niall Shanahan – 087- 264-8092