Towards a Viable Future in Precarious Times

The Wheel is continuing to work with our 16 colleague organisations on the Community and Voluntary Pillar to offer the new Government an alternative way forward that will protect vulnerable people in achieving national recovery.

The Present Context

We believe that Ireland is at a critical moment in its history. It is facing a series of interlinked crises that threaten its viability as a nation. These crises are fiscal, banking, economic, social and reputational.

The agreement with the EU/IMF on how these crises are to be addressed sets very stringent targets. The Community and Voluntary Pillar does not believe these targets can be achieved because economic growth will be nowhere near what is required to provide the jobs needed to provide the income to meet the agreement’s targets.

The Pillar believes that the agreement must be amended to ensure four key failings are addressed. These are: the scale of the adjustment is too severe, the pace of the adjustment is too fast, the distribution of the impact is unjust and the negative impact the agreement will have on Ireland’s potential to recover is excessive.

In terms of the distribution of the impact of the restructuring so far, those who are poor and/or vulnerable are bearing an inordinate part of the burden of restructuring.

The Programme for Government

The Community and Voluntary Pillar welcomes some of the initiatives included in the new Programme for Government (PfG) particularly those aimed at addressing the poverty and social exclusion experienced by so many. In particular the Pillar welcomes the PfG’s commitment to seek adjustments in the EU/IMF agreement with Ireland.

The need to address Ireland’s own budget imbalances is fully recognised by the 17 members of the Community and Voluntary Pillar

Community and Voluntary Pillar’s Stance

The need to address Ireland’s own budget imbalances is fully recognised by the 17 members of the Community and Voluntary Pillar.

As Ireland faces a range of interrelated crises it is important to realise that:

  • Ireland is not a poor country.
  • Ireland’s total tax-take is one of the lowest in the developed world.
  • It is both essential and possible to protect the vulnerable in the choices Government makes.
  • An integrated approach to tackling the country’s current problems is essential if they are to be addressed successfully.

The Community and Voluntary Pillar’s 7-Point Plan

An integrated approach to tackling the country’s current problems is essential if they are tobe addressed successfully, and the Community and Voluntary Pillar has developed a seven-point integrated recovery strategy, which involves:

  1. Renegotiating the EU/IMF agreement to remove injustices at its core and to make Ireland’s recovery possible.
  2. Developing and maintaining a fiscally responsible approach to the country’s annual Budget which should be brought into balance within a reasonable time-frame.
  3. Increasing the tax take while keeping Ireland a low tax country (through broadening and deepening the tax base and addressing tax-breaks as recommended by the Commission on Taxation).
  4. Securing better value for money in the delivery of our public services.
  5. Reforming the public sector.
  6. Targetingexpenditure cuts where required but ensuring that vulnerable people are protected. A good starting point would be the elimination of waste identified in the Comptroller and Auditor General’s reports.
  7. Focusing expenditure on the common good to ensure balanced development of economic and social infrastructure and public services while protecting the environment.

Without an integrated recovery strategy designed to share fairly the burden of adjustment, vulnerable people will continue to pay an unfair and unjust share of the price of adjustment, and state investment made to date will be wasted.

Governance

Finally the issue of governance is of major importance for the Community and Voluntary Pillar as well as for society at large. Social dialogue is a critically important component of any effective decision-making in a modern democracy. The Community and Voluntary Pillar seeks real, effective engagement with the new Government – an engagement that reflects the value of social dialogue and the need for good governance.

The Wheel and our 16 colleague organisations in the CV Pillar have submitted this briefing paper to the members of the new Government. For further information, please contact Ivan Cooper, Director of Advocacy with The Wheel (el 01 454 8727, email ivan@wheel.ie).