Is there a need for Equality Budgeting in Ireland?
Inequality and poverty are on the increase in Ireland.
* The gap between the richest and poorest in Ireland increased by 25% in 2010, with the top 20% earning 5.5 times the income of those on the lowest 20%
* The percentage of people in Ireland living in consistent poverty increased in 2010, as did the percentage of children at risk of poverty, which stands at 19.5%
* 1 in 10 people in Ireland experience food poverty
Research undertaken by policy analysts and economists shows us that economic policy measures introduced since the onset of the economic crisis are having a disproportionate impact on certain sections of society, thereby exacerbating inequality and poverty. For example:
* Budget 2014 had its greatest impact – a reduction of 2 per cent – on low income groups. The lowest impact was on some middle income groups (a loss of 1 to 1¼ per cent) while the top income group lost slightly less than 1¾ per cent [ESRI, 2013]
* Reductions in health expenditure have resulted in reductions in services for people with disabilities.
Between 2007 and 2012, the deprivation rate for people in Ireland increased from 11.8% to almost 27%, and to 30.5% in 2013 [CSO, 2014, 2015].
* Low income workers are disproportionately affected by austerity measures, such as the Universal Social Charge. Women make up the majority of workers earning the minimum wage or just above.
* Women, especially women with children, are more reliant on public services and welfare provisions, all of which are currently being severely curtailed by government.
* Households with children, especially those headed by lone parents, were most adversely affected by measures introduced in Budget 2013 [Department of Social Protection].
* Lone parents (individuals living in households where there was one adult and one or more children under 18) continued to have the highest consistent poverty rate in 2012 at 17.4%, and in 2013 at 23% [CSO, 2014, 2015].
* The deprivation rate for lone parents increased from 49.5% in 2012 to 63.2% in 2013 [CSO, 2015]