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Pre-Budget Statement By Voluntary Groups

October 5th, 2013

The Care Alliance Ireland, Disability Federation of Ireland, Irish Rural Link, Carmichael Centre for Voluntary Groups, National Youth Council of Ireland and The Wheel call on Government to produce a cross-departmental strategy for sustaining key public services in the areas of healthcare, disabilities and services for carers. We are making this call on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of people and communities that depend on Ireland’s public services and social infrastructure at various stages of their lives.

The call is being made to ensure children, young people, people of working age, older people, people with disabilities and the people who care for all of these groups, receive the services and supports they need to live life with dignity. There are certain public services that people have a right to expect and every fair and just society must provide for it citizens.
It is our collective judgment that cumulative cuts to public expenditure have pushed our public services and social infrastructure to the point that that they are no longer sustainable.

Almost 60% of charities have experienced a decrease in income over the past three years, with 60% of those experiencing a decrease of up to a quarter. Charities that provide crucial public services have been disproportionally targeted: between 2009 and 2011 State funding for the charity sector, fell annually in the order of -8% to -10%. These figures contrast with average government spending changes of +6%, -3.2% and -3.2% respectively in those years.

Without a cross-department plan for sustainable public services, we risk doing permanent damage to Ireland’s social fabric by the time we emerge from this crises.  Government regularly makes the important point about the need to achieve sustainability in our public finances. We agree. The challenge however is to do this while preserving our social fabric and the public services on which millions of our citizens rely.

Government has a plan to balance national income and expenditure, it has the Haddington Road agreement, it has a jobs plan, but there is no plan to sustain public and social services.
The values underpinning recent budgets have been largely economic in their totality, focused on efficiencies. We are seeing the economic take precedence over the social. The two realms have become disconnected in practice yet remain firmly linked in reality.

A successful economy depends on a successful society: we can’t have one without the other. A plan for sustainable public services is the only way to achieve a sustainable economic recovery. Yet our current national recovery programme is degrading the social basis for a sustainable future.We are asking Government to develop a cross-departmental strategy for sustaining public services and to ensure no further cuts to key public services in Budget 2014. We offer our support to Government to help develop and implement a plan for sustainable public services. We also committed to involving people and communities in this collective effort.

 

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