Any Cuts to Social Welfare Must Be Poverty Proofed says EAPN Ireland

Responding to Minister for Social and Family Affairs Mary Hanafin’s announcement that there will be cuts to social welfare and child benefit, Anna Visser, Director of the European Anti-Poverty Network Ireland, has called for a rigorous and transparent application of the Departments own Poverty Impact Assessment procedure.

“It is absolutely vital that the Minister fully utilises this proofing procedure, to measure the impact of any proposed cuts on those who are most vulnerable.  Critical policy decision of this nature must be informed by rigorous analysis, which would ensure that short term cuts are not at the expense of long-term economic recovery and cohesion,” said Ms. Visser.

The Minister indicated in her comments this morning that she would be asking the new combined division of the Office for Social Inclusion and Combat Poverty Agency, to analyse proposed cuts to assess the impact on those affected.  There have already been cuts to social welfare recipients, it is vital that any future measures do not push even more people below the poverty line.

The seven step process, as set out by the Department’s Office for Social Inclusion, is a vital tool for policy makers and if used properly, should serve as a robust defence for low income families and vulnerable groups.  Step one of any impact assessment is formal consultation.  It is critical that the new Division now engage with those who will have to live with the cuts in order to draw conclusions about their impact.  The guidelines also recommend publishing the results of poverty impact assessments.

“Publishing the findings would make an invaluable contribution to a debate that is increasingly characterised by misinformation, stereotyping and the demonisation of those on social welfare and low incomes,” said Ms. Visser.

ENDS


Notes: POVERTY IMPACT ASSESSMENT is the process by which government departments, local authorities and State agencies assess policies and programmes at design, implementation and review stages in relation to the likely impact that they will have or have had on poverty and on inequalities which are likely to lead to poverty, with a view to poverty reduction.  The Departments Poverty Impact Assessment Guidelines were revised in March 2008 and are available on www.socialinclusion.ie.

For more information contact:

Mark Byrne

Information & Awareness Officer

European Anti Poverty Network Ireland

01 8745737 / 0877587922

mark@eapn.ie



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