Recession ideas to be acted upon


The Government is to implement 17 ideas submitted by members of the public in an online action plan aimed at finding ways out of the economic downturn.

Among the ideas are creating a volunteer corps to engage the unemployed in community work without losing their benefits and pre-printing 'or generic equivalent' on all prescriptions to facilitate cheaper generic drug use.

The Ideas Campaign was set up by former journalist Aileen O’Toole last March and received over 5,000 submissions.

A shortlist of 44 ideas was then assessed by a group of prominent businesspeople and Taoiseach Brian Cowen and all political parties were informed of the proposals.

Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation Conor Lenihan said the Government was “keen to action as many of these ideas as quickly as possible”. He also said he would put forward some of the 27 other proposals in the coming months.

The ideas reflected the "commitment and energy of the Irish people, which will carry us through the global downturn," he said.

Aileen O’Toole said she was encouraged by the Government's response to the campaign and said the implementation of the ideas would have “a positive impact on Ireland, both economically and socially”.

Organisations, companies and other parties have also been considering implementing ideas included in the plan, she said.

The 17 ideas which the Government has committed to implementing are:

• Create a new Volunteer Corps to engage the unemployed in community and voluntary work in Ireland and internationally, without losing their unemployment benefits

• Build capacity and awareness in community and voluntary groups to enable them to ‘employ’ volunteers effectively.

• Ensure that there is not an automatic ‘use it or lose it’ approach to public funding. Allow those in receipt to rollover unspent funds to the following year’s budget to facilitate medium-term planning and savings

• Review integrated initiatives to derive maximum value from the public sector property portfolio through utilising vacant space, purchasing rather than renting etc

• Make changes to job seekers’ allowance to incentivise placement of graduates

• Provide a one-stop-shop virtual helpdesk for start-ups with advice on legal, HR, patents, accountancy issues etc.

• Develop a coherent ‘Ireland’ brand for education in order to draw more international students to our third-level institutions

• Provide for earlier entitlement for unemployed to access education schemes

• Teach business skills as part of all PhD education as a means of promoting the knowledge economy

• Increase further education and training opportunities for the unemployed including through eLearning and blended learning

• Make exercise space and outdoor equipment for old and young people available to facilitate healthy living and social interaction in communities all around the country

• Increase measures to promote a ‘Green Island’ integrated brand for Ireland. Position Ireland as a green food island producing premium, natural foods

• Encourage schools to organise transition year trips within Ireland to assist tourism

• Explore the potential impact of providing greater flexibility for small scale public sector procurement to reduce costs and increase access to public contracts by SMEs

• Encourage voluntary early retirement in the public sector

• Facilitate career breaks and shorter working week in public sector

• Take measures to facilitate the use of lower-cost generic drugs, for example by pre-printing ‘or generic equivalent’ on all prescriptions, or through other initiatives