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Focus Ireland claims Budget 2005 must reverse damage of previous Budgets

category national | irish social forum | press release author Thursday November 04, 2004 12:37author by Roughan Mac Namara - Focus Irelandauthor email rmcnamara at focusireland dot ieauthor address 9-12 High Street, Dublin 8.author phone 01 8815 900 Report this post to the editors


Charity calls on Minister to close tax avoidance loopholes that allow some millionaires pay no tax while people struggle to survive on welfare.

Charity calls for funding for a minimum of 10,000 new social houses next year and an increase in welfare payments by a minimum of €15 a week

Focus Ireland launched its Pre-Budget Submission today (Thur Nov 4th) and called upon the Government to ensure the coming Budget undoes some of the damage done to the most marginalized people in Irish society by previous Budgets including the €60 million cuts in Social Welfare spending in Budget 2004.

Declan Jones, Focus Ireland Chief Executive, said: “ The Government must act now to reverse the damage these cuts have caused. They must listen to the many people further marginalized during the recent boom years if they are serious about building a more equal society for the future.”

He said: “It’s time to stop targeting people who have been marginalized. For instance: We have the crazy situation where 242 people with earnings from €100,000 to €1m had a zero percentage rate of tax for the 2001 tax year as a result of the range of tax loopholes and avoidance measures which had been built up by this Government in previous Budgets. It is grossly unfair that Govt. policies have allowed some of the most wealthy to pay little or no tax while €60 million was cut from social welfare spending in the last Budget alone.”

Focus Ireland stressed actions must be taken across all social spending areas so the widespread disadvantage that has developed in Ireland is addressed before it creates more social exclusion in our society. Mr. Jones said: “It’s no surprise that most people who are homeless or in poor quality housing come from the lowest socio-economic group.

They need housing but they also need a range of other supports such as welfare increases, easier access to medical care and educational intervention. That’s why we are calling for a wide range of measures in different areas in our Pre-Budget Submission.

Mr. Jones said: “Homelessness is often the lowest ebb for people in their lives but it is often a downward journey that begins as people’s life chances have been curtailed as they’ve been marginalized.”

Indeed there have been a number of recent key reports, which have shown the extent to which the cards are stacked against people living on low income/social welfare in Ireland.

Recent reports have shown:

1) Vincentian Partnership study which shows that a dignified standard of living is out of reach for people dependant on social welfare in Ireland.

2) End Child Poverty Coalition – Reports that 66,000 children living in consistent poverty and 237,000 in relative poverty in Ireland. (Stats: 2001)

3) The UN Human Development Report shows Ireland has entered the top 10 of the world's quality of life league for the very first time. However, in spite of this rising prosperity Ireland still has the second-highest level of poverty in the Western world. The report shows inequality in Ireland is now higher than in any other Western country apart from the US.

4) Government’s own recent report which claims it is failing to tackle educational disadvantage in our society.

Providing a decent place to call home is the first vital cornerstone of any action plan to tackle social exclusion. Focus Ireland has called for sufficient funding to provide at least 10,000 social housing units in 2005 at a cost of approximately €1,800 Million (Over two years).

It’s essential this and a range of other actions are taken to tackle homelessness and housing more effectively as the most recent DOE figures (2002) show a total of 5,581 people who are homeless (Most living in emergency accommodation and a small percentage on the streets) and over 48,000 households (Aprox. 140,000 people) on the housing waiting lists.

Focus Ireland also calls in its PBS for the immediate reversal of the restrictions made in Budget 2004 to the SWA rent supplement which have acted to remove the housing safety net for some of people who are most in need. Mr. Jones said: “It’s vital to protect access to rent allowance as a short-term crisis measure for people in vulnerable situations if we are to help prevent more people becoming homeless or having to live in unacceptable situations like martial breakdown, overcrowding and even domestic violence”

Focus Ireland maintains in its Pre-Budget Submission that all interested parties must work together to provide “decent homes – not temporary beds” if homelessness and the housing shortage is to be tackled properly.

There have been recent improvements such as a drop in the number of people consistently sleeping rough due to more emergency accommodation being made available. The charity said these improvements are the result of good work by the Homeless Agency, voluntary groups and the Government but stressed it’s vital the foundations laid by this good work are now further built upon.

For further information please contact:
Roughan Mac Namara – Focus Ireland. Ph: 01 8815 900

Related Link: http://www.focusireland.org
author by Volunteerpublication date Thu Nov 04, 2004 13:11author address author phone Report this post to the editors

When the voluntary organisations present their pre-budget submissions to him the minister will listen politely and utter some reassuring waffle, and then totally ignore their requests.
Still, fair play to Focus. They have done excellent work down through the years. They deserve all they ask for, and more, but I think they are really only cleaning up the mess left by our socio-economic structures, and the politicians who uphold those structures.

author by Social Misfitpublication date Thu Nov 04, 2004 19:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

....the recent publication of the Public Health Alliance Ireland. Yet another report that puts the appaling facts of reality regarding the relationship between poverty & health, into figures that clearly highlight the growing chasm between rich & poor in affluent Ireland for those with already slightly blurred vision .

author by Cynicpublication date Thu Nov 04, 2004 19:10author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Its odd how those who are poor always have money to spend on alcohol and cigarettes but never have enough to feed and clothe their children. In "deprived" areas of Dublin there is whats known as "Mothers Night" - thats the day the Child Benefit gets paid. Many of the local "poor" mothers spend it all in the local pubs which specially put on entertainment on those nights.

author by Carlpublication date Mon Dec 13, 2004 19:46author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Its unfair but unfortunately has some truth to it. Also, increasing welfare payments will never solve the reasons why these people are poor. Will there ever be a balanced discussion on poverty?

author by shoegirlpublication date Tue Dec 14, 2004 00:17author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I would strongly agree with Carls comment. For a start social welfare recipients vary from people living in abject poverty to those getting so much that they would need to be earning 35k a year in order to maintain the same standard of living whilst working.

Now there are two groups who are particularly marginalised: lone parents and asylum seekers. These have the odds heavily stacked against them because they are not free to work, regardless of potential earning ability. Also housing issues are particular bad for this group.

Now I am always surprised as Focus Ireland comments on the SWA rent supplement rules as technically anybody who is registered as homeless does not have to fulfill the 6 month rule. The 6 month rule has received a huge level of negative publicity and I am quite surprised that the government has never tried to explain why it was needed in the first place - and I would guess that it was introduced as if somebody was not homeless and not renting before claiming SWA RS then obviously they had somewhere to live and where not "in need of housing" by definition of such in housing lists. Now if you are living with the mammy I don't see why you should be entitled to move into a bedsit in town just because you want to. If this was the problem why then did nobody say it? Why is there such a deadened silence on the issue of RA tenants who have realistic housing alternatives getting RA simply for the sake of it as a perceived entitlement? I saw a huge number of folks like this, almost exclusively young single people, in Dublin and Cork city, and in some cases they were living within walking distance of the family home which was often occupied by just the parents. (In fact I've only ever known one single person who got rent supplement who had genuinely nowhere to go - somebody who was genuinely on the streets otherwise). Seems to me that this is an issue that needs to be resolved.

Now what I find much more worrying is stuffing asylum seekers into old hotels and hostels bloating massive profits for property owners. I notice that Mosney made very nice profits ever since they shut the shop and housed asylum seekers. This is morally hideous as it is clearly a profit making business.

Secondly lone parents need much more support with regard to housing and child care. It is virtually impossible for a lone parent, unless they are professionals to earn enough to rent or buy at the market rate. They need a much higher level of support than they get at the moment.

The big problem I see at the moment is the lack of focus in the social welfare system. Many specific projects have been abandoned while at the same time throwing massive amounts of money at general recipients. This lack of focus is resulting in the genuinely poor getting a lower level of support than they need.

author by polpublication date Thu Jun 30, 2005 02:46author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Focus Ireland is just another charity raking it in. They must be worth millions by now, with the money they are getting from all over the country that they could build mansion for the homeless. Isn't that what they set out to do 'Help the Homeless?

author by Alpublication date Thu Jun 30, 2005 17:57author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Your an absolute idiot. Focus is, in my opinion, one of the best groups out there. You probable werent aware that they do, in fact, build and provide accomodation for the homeless. They also provide cheap meals and areas to bring your children to do homework/socialise/etc. To qualify for their accomodation you must be A, homeless and B, free from drug addiction for at leat 6 months and/or C, remain sober.

Having said that I dislike the way they fiddle their numbers when recording statistics. For example, according to Focus you are homeless if you live with your parents and are over 18. You are homeless if your renting even if its provate rental accomodation and your not claiming social.

Its also a sad fact that some will deprive their children of basic requirements in order to buy cigarrettes, drugs, alcohol and whatever else they feel like having however you cant punish the genuine people or innocent children for the actions of these low-lifes.

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