Charities Unite to Call for Plan to Sustain Public Services

Today, at a joint briefing in Dublin, Ireland’s leading charity networks and federations called on Government to produce a plan for sustainable public services, and to commit to no further cuts to social infrastructure in Budget 2013.

The Wheel, Disability Federation of Ireland, Carers Association, Irish Rural Link, Carmichael Centre for Voluntary Groups, National Youth Council of Ireland and Older & Bolder called on Government to ensure that children, young people, people of working age, older people, people with disabilities and the people who care for all of these groups, receive the services and supports they nMedia Briefingeed to live life with dignity. 

According to the organisations, there are public service outcomes that people have a right to expect and the state has to commit to providing. They warned that cuts to date have pushed our public services and social infrastructure beyond sustainability.

Since the start of the crisis in 2008, budgets for key services have been cut by up to 20%, and more in some instances, with real hardship now being experienced by people who depend on our public and social services. They added that without a plan for sustainable public services, we risk doing severe damage to Ireland’s social fabric by the time the recession ends.

“Government regularly makes the important point about the need to achieve sustainability in our public finances.  We agree.  The challenge, however, is to do this while preserving our social fabric and the public services that people rely on,” the organisations said.

They added that Government has a plan to balance national income and expenditure, it has the Croke Park Agreement, it has a jobs plan, but there is no plan to sustain public services for people who need them.

Speaking at today’s briefing, Ivan Cooper, Director of Advocacy at The Wheel said: “A successful economy depends on a successful society; we can’t have one without the other.  Yet our current national recovery programme is degrading the social basis for a sustainable future. We need to see government’s plan for sustainable social services. ”

Patricia Conboy, Director of Older & Bolder added: “Community services are a vital part of our social safety net. Recent cuts to home care services are illogical and make no sense on an economic or a human level.  They are a textbook example of the costs to citizens when Governments fail to plan.”

John Dolan, Chief executive of the Disability Federation of Ireland called on Government to “recognise and develop the value for money investments in community-based services that are enabling people with disabilities to build and maintain productive lives”.

John Dunne, CEO, The Carers Association pointed out that the absence of a statutory basis for care in the community is resulting in wasteful public expenditure which completely undermines the argument that cutbacks in this area are necessary to make public finances sustainable. 

Seamus Boland, Chief Executive of Irish Rural Link added: “The consequences of austerity means the recession will last longer and ordinary people will be disadvantaged for an unbearably longer period of time.”

Mary Cunningham, Director of the National Youth Council of Ireland said: “A recent Indecon report shows that €1 invested in youth work saves €2.22 in the long run. Given that youth work has the capacity to meet the needs of young people impacted by the recession, it is clear that avoiding cuts to youth work is not only socially just but also makes economic sense.”

Diarmaid Ó Corrbuí, Chief Executive of the Carmichael Centre for Voluntary Groups, added:  “Most organisations within the charity sector are small groups, surviving on very limited resources but are tackling large problems. They have experienced annual arbitrary reductions in State funding, and many are now being faced with hard decisions to reduce services or even cease operations, while at the same time the need for their services are increasing. We need an end to this downward spiral of cuts." 

Ivan Cooper concluded: “We offer our support to Government in making a plan for sustainable public services and in making the plan work, and we commit to involving people and communities in this collective effort to ensure success.”

The full statement is available at: