Launch of Budget 2021 Campaign: Recovery Through Community
As budget day approaches on 13 October, I think we can all agree it will be a budget day like no other.
2020 has been difficult for so many, people have experienced loss and are living with staggering grief, many are experiencing isolation and loneliness, unemployment has affected many households and we all share a prevailing sense of uncertainty for what lies ahead.
It has also, however, given pause for thought for many. Almost overnight we restructured our lives, we went home and stayed there. Life slowed down, and in those long hours I believe we all reflected on what is really important to us. Family, friendship, health, and happiness were cemented at the top of that list — because without those things, what really is there?
The Importance of Community During a Crisis
Entire communities came together and connected and supported one another. Our attention turned collectively to those who are vulnerable, those already marginalised by society. We heard night after night how we must assist in prioritising the safety and wellbeing of those who are elderly, those with existing health conditions, those who have a disability, those who do not have a support structure and may need a helping hand. We also thought more about those living in poverty, those who are homeless, those living in domestic violence, those living with addiction, those living in direct provision — as hard as lockdown may be for us, how must it be for them?
It is important now that we do not forget about these services and all those who rely on them as we move to plan for the unknown of 2021. During COVID-19 we saw that we can only be judged by how we treat society’s most vulnerable. We must now ensure we are investing in the areas that will support recovery through community.
Our Sector's Vital Role
Charities, community and voluntary organisations, and social enterprises actively support these people every single day. In addition to the delivery of frontline services they bring much-needed light into our lives through community arts, radio, and sport — amenities we valued more than ever during lockdown. They did so before COVID-19, they rallied and restructured and adapted to do so during COVID-19, and they will continue to do so where at all possible into the future. The community and voluntary sector is the invisible network connecting people in every part of Ireland, and plugging into this existing infrastructure enabled Government to respond so effectively and quickly to the COVID-19 crisis.
Our Asks for Budget 2021
Budget 2021 must prioritise an economic recovery that is rooted in community so as to benefit all. In order to do this, it must foreground organisations supporting people by delivering services, supports and in the areas of health and wellbeing, mental health, disability, social care, education, poverty, homelessness, addiction, supports for the elderly, domestic violence, and so many more. The sector has taken a catastrophic hit to its ability to fundraise and earn income. It requires continued investment for it to survive and stabilise into the future. Our future is likely to contain more difficult times, and the need for services in physical health, mental health, and wellbeing will only increase.
Today, we launch our Budget 2021 campaign: Recovery Through Community. We are asking Government to #FundCommunity in Budget 2021 by focusing on the following key areas, and by remembering those who should be our priority, as the budget is debated in the coming weeks and months.
- Ensure adequate funding and sustainable multi annual funding arrangements for the sector at this time of uncertainty
- Provide additional COVID-19 support — building on the Stability Fund for Charities — to deal with the projected €445m collapse of fundraised/earned income which will not be made good by the Wage Subsidy Scheme or its successors
- Streamline and fund statutory compliance requirements