This year, Ireland’s Poverty Watch focuses on fiscal justice and social rights. Through analysing budget and other policy choices in relation the cost of living crisis, we assess how these measures and reforms address the lives and needs of people experiencing poverty, in the context of fiscal justice and social rights.
Each year, we also include a specific focus on the experiences of people and groups experiencing poverty. This year, we focus on how older people and people in in the international protection system are impacted by both poverty and relevant Government decisions.
As we continue to deal with the ‘cost of living’ crisis, a shift is required in the Government’s approach to addressing rising living costs and the struggles facing low-income households. The inability to afford basic necessities is a sign of deep and intersectional poverty, and is a growing reality for a diverse number of individuals, households, communities, … in Irish society. The fulfilment of basic needs is fundamental to human dignity, human rights, and social and economic equality.
The annual Budget, and all relevant policy decisions, should contribute toward Ireland meeting its anti-poverty commitments, including under the Programme for Government: Our Shared Future, The Roadmap for Social Inclusion 2020-2025, the European Pillar of Social Rights, and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Government’s own anti-poverty strategy, The Roadmap for Social Inclusion aims to reduce consistent poverty to 2% or less by 2025, a commitment also contained in the Economic Recovery Plan. Despite this commitment, consistent poverty levels have increased from 4% in 2021 to 5.3% in 2022, with over 70,000 more people living in consistent poverty.
In the face of the ongoing ‘cost of living’ crisis and potential fiscal uncertainty, it is important to remember that effectively addressing poverty and social exclusion has an important role vis-à-vis Ireland’s fiscal policy, as poverty and its consequences will cost the state and society significantly more in the long run. Failure to effectively address these issues has ongoing and dire human, societal and economic costs.