Analysing Budget 2020
On 8 October, Government announced its Budget for 2020, the details of which have a range of implications for community and voluntary organisations in Ireland.
At our post-Budget event on 10 October, independent social researcher Brian Harvey, unpacked some of these implications, providing invaluable analysis of the Budget as it affects you and the people you support. Brian’s full analysis can be read here and a webinar version of the discussion can be viewed here.
Supporting the Most Vulnerable
We welcome aspects of Budget 2020, such the additional €17m allocated to the Department of Rural and Community Development; budget increases for both Tusla and the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection; new funding allocations within the Department of Health and the establishment of the Judicial Council through the Department of Justice and Equality. (Further details of these aspects of the Budget in relation to our pre-Budget submission, are provided below.)
We remain concerned, however, that Budget 2020 included no inflation-based increase in welfare rates, meaning that, as wages and prices are set to increase in 2020 (4.5% for wages, 1.4% for prices) Ireland’s most vulnerable people will be worse off by this time next year. This is evidenced in the post-Budget analyses conducted by the Economic and Social Research Institute and Social Justice Ireland.
This is the main outcome of Budget 2020 and, while there are some features of Budget 2020 which we welcome below, this negative outcome for Ireland’s most vulnerable people is deeply regressive and needs to be addressed by Government, perhaps in the form of a supplementary post-Brexit budget. As a result of Budget 2020, the community and voluntary sector will be responding to increased inequality and need at the coalface.
Ireland’s 12,000 charities employ over 190,000 people, mobilise over 350,000 volunteers and contribute over €7bn to the cost of our health and social services every year. Over 1,000 organisations are funded by the HSE to provide essential services in health and disability, and Tusla funds a further 700 organisations in the areas of child welfare and family support. Although these organisations support the most vulnerable in our society, most have seen service budgets cut or remain frozen over the ten years from 2009 to 2019. We will continue to call on government, post-Budget, to invest in programmes that enable the community and voluntary sector to support vulnerable people.
We also remain concerned that there are no specific provisions to support the crucial work of Ireland’s 12,000 charities through Brexit fallout. Whatever the outcome of Brexit, Government should acknowledge the impact on charities and those reliant on their supports, in the same way that they have focused on business, tourism and agriculture. Ireland’s charities should be able to benefit in the same way that private firms will benefit from the various investment incentives announced. We will be seeking to have this rectified when the details of these announcements are being implemented, either by Ministerial Regulation or amendments to the forthcoming Finance Act. We will also be seeking clarity that social enterprises will be able to access such supports.
Investing in Community
The Wheel’s Investing in Community pre-Budget submission laid out a series of recommendations about how Government could better support the community and voluntary sector: provide adequate and sustainable funding for the sector; streamline regulatory and funding-related compliance requirements and provide for the costs of compliance; bring down the cost of insurance; comprehensively resource the new strategies for the community and voluntary sector and social enterprise; implement the recommendations of the IRG Report; develop a framework for collaborative working and provide resources and supports for mergers; increase budget allocations for the Department of Rural and Community Development.
We welcome several of the measures introduced in Budget 2020 which positively address some of these recommendations.
1. Additional €17m Allocated to the Department of Rural and Community Development
An allocation of €1.2m will support implementation of the Five-Year Strategy for Community and Voluntary Sector Development in Ireland, which was published in September 2019. This includes supports for local delivery structures (Public Participation Networks and Local Community Development Committees). €300,000 has been allocated to deliver the National Social Enterprise Policy, with an additional fund of €800,000 towards a programme of training for social enterprises.
As detailed in our pre-Budget submission, we would like to see ring-fenced funding for all three of the Department’s strategies, with a detailed breakdown of costings for each area of implementation and will be working with our members and with the Department on this in the months to come. Read our submissions on the departmental strategies.
2. €1m Allocated to the Department of Justice and Equality for the Establishment of the Judicial Council
We consider this an essential step in addressing unsustainable insurance costs for community and voluntary organisations.
3. Increase of €29.4m to Tusla, the Child and Family Agency
This brings Tusla’s total allocation to €814m – an increase of 3.8% from 2019. This additional funding is to continue work to reduce the number of children awaiting the allocation of a social worker, to address significant cost pressures in residential care, to improve service performance and to make the necessary improvements to achieve better outcomes for vulnerable children and families, as well as supporting Tusla in continuing to provide the existing level of services in face of increasing demands.
Additionally, the Department of Expenditure and Reform has published a detailed assessment of performance measurement carried out by Tusla (which can be accessed here). We continue to work closely with our Tusla-funded members and with the agency itself, through our membership of the Tusla Commissioning Advisory Group.
4. Department of Health allocations and Implementation of Sláintecare
A €20m Integration Fund and €12m Care Redesign Fund have been ring-fenced for the implementation of Sláintecare. As part of this rollout, Sláintecare Implementation Plan funding will be invested in the enhancement of community services, including allied health professionals, with a full year investment of €60m for 2021. The additional full-year funding will provide for up to 1,000 therapists, nurses and other professionals in the community as well as recruitment of dementia advisers.
Additionally, the Department has committed to €1m of extra home care hours (within older people’s services), €1.03 billion in funding for mental health services and €25m to disability services. This is specifically allocated to cover supports for 1,600 school leavers as well as respite care, emergency protocol and a new Autism Plan.
We welcome these funding allocations and would like to see implementation of the IRG Report recommendations advanced in parallel with Sláintecare implementation, as expressed in our pre-Budget submission.
5. Additional €171.2 million to the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
Additional funding of €2m will be allocated for training Community Employment Scheme participants. A further €2.5m will be allocated for “specific activation and training supports for groups most distant from the labour market” (including ex-offenders, young people, members of Traveller and Roma communities, and carers). The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection has provided a breakdown of its budgeting for 2020 here.
We consider this a positive investment in programmes that support social inclusion and have become integral to the operations of community and voluntary organisations.
We appreciate your support for our Investing in Community pre-Budget campaign and we will continue to work on these issues post-Budget. We will be in contact soon with more information about our upcoming campaigns and our work to support the needs of the charity, community and voluntary, and social enterprise sector.