New strategy would lift 70,000 children out of poverty this year – Minister

State pension to be benchmarked against the cost of living

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Regina Doherty, had committed to publishing this strategy during the summer and its much-delayed publication on Tuesday may well be one of her last acts as Minister. Photograph Nick Bradshaw for The Irish Times

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Regina Doherty, had committed to publishing this strategy during the summer and its much-delayed publication on Tuesday may well be one of her last acts as Minister. Photograph Nick Bradshaw for The Irish Times

 

Over 70,000 children will be lifted out of consistent poverty by the end of the year, while the State pension will be benchmarked against the cost of living, under a five-year “anti poverty” strategy which is to be published on Tuesday.

Titled the Roadmap for Social Inclusion 2020-2025, it also promises anyone who can work will be offered it while employment rates among people with disabilities are predicted to increase by more than 10 per cent over the strategy lifetime – to 33 per cent.

However, underlining the State’s heavy reliance on social transfers to mitigate poverty and inequality, it says the share of people at risk of poverty before transfers will still be almost 40 per cent in five years’ time, at 37.9 per cent, albeit down from 41 per cent in 2018.

The focus . . . is on building social inclusion, using an expanded approach that moves beyond the traditional focus on income poverty

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Regina Doherty, had committed to publishing this strategy during the summer and its much-delayed publication on Tuesday may well be one of her last acts as Minister.

“It is a clear statement of intention by the Government that the gains we have seen in the Irish economy in recent years must be shared across all members of society,” she said. “The roadmap presents seven high-level goals, 22 targets and 66 unique commitments. The focus . . . is on building social inclusion, using an expanded approach that moves beyond the traditional focus on income poverty."

This reaffirms the Government’s long-held commitment to reduce the national consistent poverty rate to two per cent or less and to do so over the period up to 2025.

The current national consistent poverty rate is 5.6 per cent. Among children it is 7.7 per cent – or 92,000 children in consistent poverty. The strategy aims to reduce this to 37,000 by the end of 2020.

Seven top-line goals focus on increased employment, fair pay and working conditions, income security for older people, reducing child poverty, reducing poverty among people with disabilities, improving community cohesion, and access to quality services for all.

Among the 66 commitments are to increase paid parental leave from two weeks to seven weeks; provide extra supports to early learning childcare settings where a high proportion of children are in poverty, consider benchmarking welfare payments as well as the State pension against cost-of-living, and, review the welfare system with a view to individualising all adult payments and doing away with “dependent” adult categories.