Charity calls on government to set ‘legally binding targets’ to tackle poverty in Ireland

Charity calls on government to set ‘legally binding targets’ to tackle poverty in Ireland

The next government must set legally binding targets to reduce poverty in Ireland, according to the Society of St Vincent de Paul. The Society said it expected to receive more than a quarter of a million calls for help this year for the first time ever.

The preliminary budget request stated that while the worst of the cost of living crisis was behind us for most of us, lasting damage had been done, requiring further government action to help those in need.

SVP also outlined priorities for the next government to take more structural measures to tackle poverty in Ireland.

“The cost of living remains high for people living in poverty: low wages, lack of adequate income support, rising housing costs and homelessness, refugee and asylum seeker deprivation, unaffordable childcare and lack of transport are just some of the challenges we face,” said Chief Social Justice Officer Dr Tricia Keilthy.

The government must provide hope and demonstrate leadership based on the values ​​of human dignity, social justice, equality and the common good of society.

“These values ​​must also be implemented after Budget 2025 and in the next government program.”

The SVP's budget submission showed that more than one in three households (37%) no longer have money to save, while more than 900,000 people regularly go without basic necessities.
The SVP’s budget submission showed that more than one in three households (37%) no longer have money to save, while more than 900,000 people regularly go without basic necessities.

Some of the charity’s requests for Budget 2025 include a €20 increase in social benefits, a €7 per week increase in fuel allowance and the provision of free school books to upper primary school pupils.

The submission showed that more than one in three households (37%) no longer have money to save, while more than 900,000 people regularly go without basic necessities.

The charity said €40 million was spent on direct assistance to households, while spending on utility support almost doubled in the past year.

As the next elections draw closer, the SVP said there are longer-term initiatives that must be prioritised in tackling poverty, regardless of who leads the next government.

This includes introducing a Poverty Act, which ‘makes government objectives legally binding and places the poverty-proofing of all government policies on a legal basis’.

There were calls for the introduction of ‘socio-economic status’ as a basis in equality legislation, while the creation of a separate child budget was urged.

SVP also called for an end to so-called voluntary contributions for parents to schools, as these can cost families up to €550 per year.

National President Rose McGowan said the pressure parents feel is particularly great.

“More and more families caring for children with additional needs are coming to SVP for support with the costs of essential items,” she said. “More than 50% of our conferences received these types of requests last year.

This is a huge gap in government support for children, which is causing a lot of stress and pressure for families. SVP members are stepping in to help solve this.

“We are seeing more people working on low wages and their rents are rising. Low incomes combined with unaffordable and inaccessible services are keeping far too many people in poverty.”