“Planning for the right kind of recovery 2015”

by | Jul 21, 2014 | Justice and Peace, Poverty: Analysis and Responses, Society of St. Vincent de Paul

Geoff-Meagher,-SVP-#201A2A3The Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Ireland advocates for the poor in a position paper “Planning for the right kind of recovery 2015”.

Introduction from SVP National President

The SVP sees at first hand the impact that the crisis and the austerity programme which has followed is having on struggling households across Ireland. Calls for assistance to the SVP’s largest regional offices have increased by over 100% since 2009. The impact of cutbacks to incomes and services has been most keenly felt by those least able to afford it, resulting in increased demand for our services. SVP is spending almost €80 million per annum helping individuals and families in need.

SVP members are invited into the homes of the people who seek our help to provide support, friendship and assistance. We have a unique insight into the lives of people who are struggling. The reality witnessed by the Society of St Vincent de Paul cannot and should not be ignored in any assessment of the impact of the crisis, recession and the effects of long term disadvantage on communities across the country.

The fallout from six years of austerity and continued cuts is now becoming clear. Waiting lists are increasing for critical health services. Thousands of children with disabilities are waiting years for assessments and supports. A housing crisis has emerged, with homeless families being accommodated in hotels due to a shortage of suitable accommodation, with the risk of homelessness increasing for many households due to higher rents.

As Ireland begins to emerge from the economic darkness of recent years any element of solidarity which may have developed as a result of our shared pain is in danger of dissipating. The gap between those who are positioned to benefit most from any recovery and those still struggling on  fixed incomes from the state or in low paid employment is striking.

SVP wants Budget 2015 to deliver on three key priorities so that Government can plan for the right kind of recovery, a recovery which does not leave people behind. Decision making must be embedded in a strong evidence base and rooted in values which acknowledge the importance of social and human capital as well as economic concerns.

Budget 2015 must:

  • Tackle poverty and social exclusion
  • Tackle unemployment and provide supports and opportunities to jobless households
  • Invest in our children and young people

Vision for Irish Society

Our vision for Ireland during and after the crisis is for a nation where caring for each other, and our children, older people and people with disabilities is valued and supported, where individuals, families and communities can participate fully in society and where an adequately resourced state, and a strong economy, employment and business environment support the type of society that we wish to live in.

However, notwithstanding some positive developments, we are moving further away from achieving this vision. An adjustment of around €2 billion is to be made in Budget 2015 – in a context where over 750,000 of our people, including more than 200,000 children, are living in poverty. We now have almost 90,000 households on the social housing waiting lists and homelessness is increasing.

At present over 390,000 people are on the Live Register seeking employment. More starkly one in four children is now growing up in a home where no one has a job. At a very basic level and with water charges on the way, SVP sees families struggling with their current household bills, especially with their energy costs. Ireland has one of the highest rates of third level qualifications among young people in the EU and yet 30% of children from disadvantaged areas leave primary school with low levels of literacy and numeracy, half a million adults have literacy problems, 25% have weak  numeracy skills and almost 17% of our young people are not in employment, education or training.

At a time of continued retrenchment in health spending, 10% of our population experience food poverty and we have very stark income-related health inequalities.

This is a time of risk and opportunity for our country. We are asking Government to announce a budget for the right kind of recovery, a recovery which will tackle the inequalities that are preventing our people from reaching their potential and which are storing up human, economic and social costs for the future.

We need Government leadership and policies that focus on people as much as fiscal and economic issues. Our priority should be to ensure that when recovery comes, those who are struggling, disadvantaged, poor and excluded are not left behind.

We need a budget that outlines what Government will do to ensure that increasing growth and employment means that quality jobs are available to all, including those who are distant from the labour market, those who are living in disadvantaged and rural areas and those who have been scarred by the experience of long term unemployment and educational disadvantage.

We need a budget which allocates the resources to allow all children in Ireland to grow up free from  poverty through the provision of better services and income supports to families.

Many of the safety nets designed to protect people who are vulnerable have been undermined, ationed or simply removed in recent years. Unless we tackle the problems described above and ensure that the necessary social safety nets are put in place for a more inclusive society; we risk leaving a generation of children behind; we risk creating a future population of older people who live in poverty; we risk being unable to weather future crises; and we risk missing the opportunity to develop Ireland into a fairer, more equal society.

Geoff Meagher, President


  • A fair budget that will tackle poverty and social exclusion
  • An inclusive budget that will tackle unemployment and provide support and opportunities to those  in joblessness households
  • A budget that invests in our children and young people
  • Policy priorities for Budget 2015

Click to download the detailed document.