Round Up of Reactions to Budget 2010

Below you will find a selection of responses from Irish community and voluntary organisations to the cuts announced in Budget 2010. To have your organisations response included in this article, please email relevant details to info@fundingpoint.ie.

Respond Housing Association

One of Ireland’s leading charities has expressed disappointment at the €25 million cut to overseas aid made in yesterday’s budget. According to Respond! Housing Association this will result in hunger, destitution and death for some of the world’s poorest citizens. Respond! is currently engaged in home and community building projects in South Africa and claims the reduction will have a detrimental effect on organisations working to relieve poverty.

According to Respond! spokesperson Aoife Walsh the announcement made yesterday shows the lack of commitment of this Government to end world hunger and poverty.

“This Government has already reduced overseas development aid three times in the past year and this decrease of €25 million will have a devastating effect on some of the world’s poorest and underprivileged people. This represents less than a third of the money allocated to reduce the price of alcohol which brings with it many family, social and health costs for the exchequer. The overseas aid budget has already been reduced by €224 million this year and we are extremely disappointed that further misery will be heaped upon the most vulnerable as a result of yesterday’s cut.”

Respond! maintains that this Government is  avoiding the commitment made by Bertie Ahern to the United Nations in 2000 to spend 0.7% of national income on oversees development aid. 

 

Society of St Vincent de Paul

The Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) has welcomed the fact that the Government has compensated some of the poorest families for the cut in Child Benefit and retained the Family Support Agency. These were two of the key requests in the SVP Pre Budget Submission. However, it is regrettable that many low income families will suffer from the cut in child benefit.

The Society says that the reduction in the adult social welfare rate is very bad news. This cut will amount to €13.90 per week for a couple, which is compounded by the loss of the Christmas Bonus, increases in rent payable for social housing and private rented sector where rent supplement is given. In addition all families with children under 5 have lost €664 over the past year due to the cut in the Early Childcare Supplement.

Compared with this time last year, a single parent family with 2 children under 5 has sustained a cut of 10.4% in their income, or €1820 over the year, and a couple with 2 children under 5 have sustained a cut of € 2241 or 9.2% in their income. These cuts mean more hardship for families on social welfare, and will likely push people into debt. 

The SVP is also critical of the introduction of prescription charges for those on medical cards and the increase in the monthly drugs payment scheme threshold.  The introduction of these prescription charges will be particularly difficult for families requiring multiple prescriptions.

“In the days before the budget, our Dublin office alone was receiving almost 500 calls a day seeking assistance.  We believe that this was partly due to the fact that there is no Christmas Bonus being paid this year.  We also have no doubt that, overall, this Budget will increase the calls for help that we, and other charities, will receive in the coming year” said Mairead Bushnell, SVP National President.

 

Social Justice Ireland

Unfair, unjust Budget fails the vulnerable, damages the economy

The unfair and breathtakingly unjust decisions made in Budget 2010 will damage Ireland’s economic development and social development.

This Budget is anti-family, anti-poor and anti-children. Government chose to reduce the income going to large numbers of Ireland’s poorest people while wasting money on a useless scrappage scheme that will have no significant impact on emissions but will see most of the money going to overseas manufactures.

In what appears to be an ideologically fixated approach to Budget 2010 Government has placed its faith in the failed neo-liberal economic model which caused many if not most of the current economic problems not just in Ireland but across the world.

 

National Youth Council of Ireland

he National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) opposes the slashing of Jobseeker’s Allowance to a paltry €100 for young people aged 20 to 21 and €150 to those between 22 to 24 who are unemployed. These cutbacks are more severe than proposed in the McCarthy report and we believe it is a misguided and short-sighted policy that will do nothing for young people and the economy.

“We know there are 74,000 young people are out of work and these changes will have a significant impact on many of them who have already undergone a means test which demonstrates that they have no or limited alternative income. To slash that by half will drive many who are already struggling further into debt and poverty. To cut supports by such a large amount for those young people with limited income makes a mockery of Government promises that the Budget will be fair and will protect the vulnerable. The only incentive given to young people in this Budget is to emigrate. That is short-sighted as we will lose many talented and skilled young people who could have been the drivers of recovery and renewal,” stated James Doorley, Assistant Director at NYCI.

NYCI wants to get young people off benefits and back to work. Therefore as part of a stimulus plan to get the country going again we believe that Government must guarantee every young person out of work a meaningful and appropriate training, education or workplace opportunity within three months of becoming unemployed. We are concerned that the real motive here is just to cut benefits and not anything to do with the needs of young people.

 

Barnardos

Worst Not Over for Children as Budget 2010 Offers Little Hope

Children's charity Barnardos expressed its deep concern and distress for children living in disadvantage following the Budget announcement by Minister for Finance, Brian Lenihan. The organisation expressed its particular ire over the 10% cut to Child Benefit announced and the inadequate system put in place to protect families dependent on social welfare or on low incomes from this cut.

Speaking after Minister Lenihan's Budget speech, CEO of Barnardos, Fergus Finlay said: "Barnardos is appalled that the 4% cut in basic Social Welfare payments announced in the new budget, in addition to the loss of the Christmas payment, leaves families on social welfare with a 6% cut to their weekly income and will greatly add to the hardship and poverty experienced by children living in these families.

"While we welcome the 3.80 increase announced to the Qualified Child Increase to compensate these families for the 16 per month decrease in Child Benefit, and indications that those on Family Income Supplement will be compensated, the net effect on families, taking account of €14 a week cut in adult rates, will be devastating."

"While it is clear that tough decisions had to be made in the current climate, it is very difficult for those of us working with some of the most marginalised and disadvantaged children in the country to accept that these should be made at the expense of the children and families who struggled to get by even at the height of the boom."

 

National Women's Council of Ireland

Mothers on social welfare or working for low pay will bear the brunt of budgetary cuts, according to the National Women's Council of Ireland. "We deplore the government's decision to cut child benefit and social welfare payments," said Susan McKay, director of the NWCI. "Child benefit is a crucial part of family income - many women will be left wondering if they can afford to continue to work, given that childcare costs continue to rise." Women are also predominantly employed in lower paid public service jobs and are facing further pay cuts.

The NWCI warned that the full impact of cuts will not be evident for some time. "We are extremely concerned about the future of many of our member groups, especially community based women's groups which provide essential services and supports for women and families. Many of them have already been severely damaged by cuts. Many are facing closure. Others, including frontline services to victims of domestic and sexual violence have been warned to expect significant cuts in the new year."

 

Dochas

In response to Finance Minister Brian Lenihan‟s Budget speech, Dóchas - the umbrella group of Ireland‟s Development NGOs – expressed disappointment at the Government‟s decision to cut the overseas aid budget even further.

“Once again, the poorest people on earth have been hit hard. The announcement of €25 million worth of cuts to the aid budget comes on top of a massive 24% cut in 2009 – cuts that have meant severe hardship for countless poor people”, said Hans Zomer, Director of Dóchas, which unites 44 Irish aid agencies and Development NGOs”

“It is time we recognise that the world‟s poorest people cannot afford further cuts” added Zomer.
The aid agencies commented that Ireland‟s credibility abroad was dented severely by the second failure to achieve the aid target date.

“Twice we promised „solemnly‟ to achieve the UN 0.7% target, and twice we have failed to achieve it by the date we set for ourselves. It does raise serious questions about the credibility of this new aid promise. At a minimum, to restore credibility, the Government needs to copperfasten this commitment in legislation, and announce real and practical steps to restore the aid programme” said Hans Zomer on behalf of the 44 members of Dóchas.

“We will be seeking an urgent meeting with Minister Power, to seek clarification about the government‟s commitment to its international obligations, as we do not want Ireland to renege on its promises to the poorest people on earth”, added Zomer.

 

Trocaire

Trócaire has expressed disappointment at the latest cut of €25 million to Ireland’s overseas aid budget. “This is the fifth successive cut to the aid budget since July of 2008, totalling €249 million,” said Director Justin Kilcullen.

“The government will not now meet its commitment to spending 70 cent in every €100 of national income on overseas aid by 2012. This is bad news for the people who rely on that money to survive, in countries where it can literally be a matter of life or death.”

However, Mr Kilcullen said he recognised the difficult economic circumstances in which the government had to operate. “I hope the government can now stabilise the funding for overseas aid.

“The government should now outline the steps it will take to ensure Ireland spends 70 cent in every €100 of national income on aid by 2015. Given this country’s record of breaking our promises regarding aid it needs to re-establish its credibility as soon as possible.”

 

Oxfam Ireland

Oxfam Ireland has condemned the latest cut to Ireland’s overseas aid. The government spending estimates for 2010 show the government cutting the aid budget by €25 million, leaving the budget at 0.52% of GNI. This cut comes on top of a cut of €224m in 2009 or 24% of the budget.

“We’re extremely disappointed that the government has piled further cuts on the massive 24% cut applied earlier this year, once again hitting the poorest and most vulnerable”, said Jim Clarken, Chief Executive of Oxfam Ireland.

In addition to cutting the aid budget the government has now yet again broken a promise to the world’s poor. The promise, first made in 1970, was repeated in 2000 when the then Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, seeking a UN Security Council seat for Ireland, promised that Ireland would keep the UN promise to spend 0.7% of national income (GNP) in Official Development Assistance (ODA) by 2007. Five years later the government had broken this promise but, after the Make Poverty History campaign, announced 2012 as the new date for reaching the target. Now, this latest promise has been broken.

“After yet again breaking a solemn promise to the world’s poor, the government of Ireland’s word is now ringing increasingly hollow. After the broken promise of 2000 and 2005, we now have yet another broken promise in 2009. How can other nations, and in particular the world’s poor, now believe that Ireland will keep its word?” concluded Mr. Clarken.

A cut of this magnitude is more than the total amount of aid we gave in 2008 to Zambia, a priority country for Irish development assistance, and more than the government spent supporting the health sectors of all Ireland’s priority aid countries through the bilateral programme.

Yet another delay in reaching the 0.7% target will mean the loss of hundreds of millions of euros to the fight against poverty, depriving tens of thousands of access to healthcare, education, and support to people to work their way out of poverty.

 

To have your organisations Budget 2010 response included here, please email relevant details to info@fundingpoint.ie.