Minister Pressured Over Forthcoming Budget
As the Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton attends her first Social Inclusion Forum tomorrow the European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN) Ireland and the Community Workers Cooperative (CWC) call on her to recognise the critical impact the crisis is having on the most vulnerable in society and to take immediate action to address this in Budget 2012.
"Failures to protect vulnerable people and communities will embed poverty and exclusion in our society for decades to come”
The Forum, which takes place in Rialto in Dublin, is the key moment in the year when the Government is expected to present its progress in delivering on its commitments to address poverty and social exclusion. These are outlined in the National Action Plan for Social Inclusion 2007-2016 and includes the overall goal to eliminate consistent poverty by 2016. However, even as early as 2009, consistent poverty had risen from 4.2% to 5.5%.
With the support of the Social Inclusion Division in the Department of Social Protection EAPN Ireland and the CWC have been holding meetings throughout the country in preparation for the Forum. At these meetings participants have highlighted that the crisis and many of the policies to address it have resulted in great difficulties for marginalised communities and groups. These include the closure of services, increased poverty, debt and unemployment with no real prospects for jobs. Another key issue was the closure or cuts to vital community organisations and supports.
Ann Irwin from the Community Workers Cooperative stated that “participants recognise the challenges faced by the Government but are clear that we are in an absolute social crisis and continued failures to protect vulnerable people and communities will embed poverty and exclusion in our society for decades to come”.
Paul Ginnell, Policy Officer with EAPN Ireland highlighted that ‘the Social Inclusion Forum must not be a talking shop and must be a serious opportunity for people experiencing poverty and social exclusion and their organisations to engage with the Governments on their commitments to addressing poverty and social exclusion. We are happy that the Minister for Social Protection will be present and hope that she seriously engages with the issues that will be raised.’
EAPN Ireland will also publish the latest edition of its Review to coincide with the Forum. The Review entitled ‘Progress Towards Europe 2020’ includes a report from workshops held in September looking at the Government’s commitments to reduce poverty and the reality for marginalised communities.