Ireland’s social services are ‘manifestly inadequate’, says report

Council of Europe report criticises Ireland’s health, social security and social protection

The report highlighted the low level of unemployment assistance for persons aged 25 years or below, which is currently €100. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

The report highlighted the low level of unemployment assistance for persons aged 25 years or below, which is currently €100. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

 

The Council of Europe has heavily criticised Ireland’s social services, claiming the level of assistance for single people without resources is “manifestly inadequate”.

A monitoring report on health, social security and social protection services said Ireland is failing to live up to some 13 legal obligations to citizens under the European Social Charter.

Failings cited include inadequate co-ordination of the fight against poverty and social exclusion, and the failure to guarantee access to health and social services.

The report was compiled by the Strasbourg-based council’s European Committee of Social Rights which monitors adherence to the charter, which Ireland signed up to in 2000.

The report says excessive delays in accessing medical care represent “a significant problem”, while waiting times for care have been increasing.

It notes a study found the introduction and increase of prescription charges is associated with decreases in the use of prescribed medicines.

Mental health

The provision of mental health services, the report says, is significantly below the level identified as necessary in the national strategy for mental health.

“With a view to guaranteeing effective protection of all members of society against the occurrence of social and economic risks, states must ensure the maintenance of their social security systems,” the committee says.

On welfare benefits, it finds the minimum amount of sickness, work injury and occupational diseases benefits are inadequate.

It notes unemployment assistance was €100 per week for persons aged 18 to 24 and €144 per week for persons aged 25 and above.

“The committee notes that unemployment assistance for persons aged 25 years or below is manifestly inadequate,” the report says.

On health and safety in the workplace, the committee finds measures taken to reduce the number of fatal accidents at work are insufficient. It also says there is no strategy to develop occupational health services for all workers.