On the 27th of June, Social Justice Ireland launched their Budget Choices 2023 Policy Brief publication. It contains detailed and fully costed budgetary packages across more than a dozen policy areas including health, housing, education, welfare, sustainability, children, and families.
Social Justice Ireland identifies a number of factors which will influence our social and economic outlook for 2023 and beyond such as uncertainties arising from COVID-19 and the geopolitical instability from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The ongoing cost of living increases which have already undermined living conditions in our society, combined with extensive inflation and a potential recession in 2023, could have serious societal implications over the next few years. This should be central in any and all Government considerations in Budget 2023.
As well as responding to the current cost of living challenges, Social Justice Ireland believes that Budget 2023 should be guided by one core principle, that the measures adopted prioritise the protection of the most vulnerable groups in our society.
To offset these potential risks Social Justice Ireland calls for a government commitment in Budget 2023 to borrow additional resources to invest in long-term infrastructural projects focused on social housing and achieving our climate change targets. As mentioned above, their Policy Brief also outlines investment proposals over 12 policy areas.
Packages Proposed for Budget 2023
The key investment packages proposed by Social Justice Ireland for Budget 2023 are as follows:
- Housing – €1,442.3m
- Just Transition – €562m
- Health, Disability and Carers – €1,436m
- Pensions and Older People – €1,025.7m
- Rural, Regional and Community – €477m
- Education – €412.9m
- Children and Families, incl. Direct Provision – €749.7m
- Other taxation and revenue-raising – €2,605.2m
Additional resources will be required to provide more social housing, tackle the climate crisis, cover the cost of rising public sector pay, develop comprehensive public transport, achieve effective Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare system and promote a ‘just transition’ that they deem essential if Ireland is to avoid serious divisions in the coming decade.
Social Justice Ireland states that Ireland is likely to be poorer in the period immediately ahead, with some people continuing to thrive but others finding it impossible to maintain a minimum standard of living due to insufficient income levels. 581,334 people in Ireland are living in poverty, of which 163,936 are children. A closer look shows that more than 90,000 of these have jobs.
The scale of the numbers of adults and children living in poverty is a concern, particularly when we consider the sudden and persistent rise in the cost of living which impacts most seriously on those with the lowest incomes – the working poor, single-parent households, people who are unemployed and people with long-standing illness or disabilities.
Children and Families
As part of its proposed investment packages for Children and Families, Social Justice Ireland calls for an additional two weeks of paternity leave in Budget 2023 at a cost of €14m and an additional two weeks of paid parental leave at a cost of €19m. Social Justice Ireland proposes that the Government invest an additional €30m in Core Funding for our sector in Budget 2023 to support wages in the sector. Government should also explore how a National Childcare Fund could be established based on the operation of the National Training Fund. Budget 2023 should also allocate additional funding to Tusla of €50m for child protection and increased social provision for children and families while increasing the resources available for the regulation of childminders by €2m. €3.5 million should be allocated to support the delivery of the National Action Plan for the EU Child Guarantee.
Early Childhood Education and Care in Ireland performs poorly on an international level when it comes to state investment, spending just under 0.4 per cent of GDP on pre‐primary education for 3‐5-year-olds. Social Justice Ireland proposes that Government allocate €115m in Budget 2023, to bring spending in this area to 0.5 per cent of GDP and build on this investment each year to reach 1 per cent of GDP by 2027.
Early Childhood Ireland will be monitoring these issues for our sector in the lead-up to Budget 2023. Our Policy Team is available to answer questions on the topics raised here.