Charities broadly positive on extra spending in Budget 2021

Measures to protect majority of older people from rising cost of energy excluded, says Age Action

Maureen Kavanagh, chief executive of Active Retirement Ireland: ‘Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party committed in their Programme for Government to build a society that properly values older people – a society where older people can live full and active lives in their communities.’ Photograph: iStock

Maureen Kavanagh, chief executive of Active Retirement Ireland: ‘Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party committed in their Programme for Government to build a society that properly values older people – a society where older people can live full and active lives in their communities.’ Photograph: iStock

 

There has been a mixed but broadly positive reaction to Budget 2021 from non-governmental bodies.

The Wheel, a national association of charities and voluntary organisations, welcomed many of the investments in social infrastructure and voluntary supports.

Commenting on the budget Ivan Cooper, the Wheel’s director of public policy said the organisation “warmly welcome” an additional €10 million for the Covid-19 Stability Fund for Community and Voluntary Organisations. He said this would build on €35million promised earlier this year.

“This additional funding, additional and the hundreds-of-millions of Euro announced for public services – many of which are provided by charities – is desperately needed,” he said.

Mr Cooper warned total losses to member organisations would add up to a €445million funding deficit by the end of the year, caused by a collapse in charities’ earned and fundraised income.

However, Maureen Kavanagh chief executive of Active Retirement Ireland said: “Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party committed in their Programme for Government to build a society that properly values older people – a society where older people can live full and active lives in their communities.” But she said Budget 2021 “falls short on delivering that society”.

Age Action said the Government’s Budget 2021 choices did not include measures to protect the majority of older people on a fixed income from the rising cost of energy.

Reacting to Budget 2021, Inclusion Ireland welcomed the increase in funding for disability services but warned “the devil will be in the detail when it comes to delivering on improving the lives of those with a disability”.

Free books scheme

Children’s charity Barnardos also welcomed “much needed funding to support vulnerable children but said “investment must reach those who need it”.

It welcomed other measures including increases to the Qualified Child Increase (QCI); investment in education for children with special educational needs through the expansion of the Social Inclusion Programme; and changes to the Working Family Payment and One Parent Family Payment.

However it said it was disappointed that there has been no expansion of the roll-out of the free books scheme and that there was no mention of additional family support services for children living in direct provision or homeless accommodation.

Chief executive of Dublin Simon Community, Sam McGuinness, said the increased funding for the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage to a record amount of €5.2 billion was welcome.

“This funding is being committed for vital support and prevention services such as the delivery of increased social housing, rent support schemes for struggling tenants, emergency beds and cold weather initiatives funding for rough sleepers,” he said.

Clear signal

The Irish Council for Social Housing (ICSH) said Budget 2021 capital investment in public housing was “a positive response to the scale of the housing crisis and sends a clear signal to approved housing bodies and local authorities to meet and even exceed existing targets that will boost the delivery of permanent social housing”.

The Disability Federation of Ireland, DFI welcomed the announcement of an extra €100 million for disability health services.

“The €100million attempts to address the extra disability related Covid-19 costs and keep existing services going” the organisation commented.

The National Youth Council of Ireland – which represents groups working with more than 380,000 young people nationwide “ warmly welcomed” the additional €5 million in funding provided for youth services.

The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul said despite “welcome increases in the Living Alone Allowance, the Fuel Allowance and targeted supports for children, the budget has provided little to prevent escalation in poverty or a growth in inequality”.