Joint Statement: To call on Government to develop a cross-departmental plan to restore and grow funding for public services

The Care Alliance Ireland, Disability Federation of Ireland, Irish Rural Link, Carmichael Centre for Voluntary Groups, National Youth Council of Ireland and The Wheel call on Government to develop a cross-departmental plan to restore and grow funding for public services.

23rd September 2014

We are making this call on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of people and communities that depend on Ireland’s public services and social infrastructure at various stages of their lives.

The call is being made to ensure children, young people, people of working age, older people, people with disabilities and the people who care for all of these groups, receive the services and supports they need to live life with dignity. There are certain public services that people have a right to expect and every fair and just society must provide for it citizens.

It is our collective judgement that cumulative cuts to public expenditure have pushed our public services and social infrastructure to the point that that they are no longer sustainable.

Funding for community and voluntary organisations has been cut between 8 and 10% in each of past seven Budgets, and this has resulted in a deficiency of essential support services for children and young people, older people, people with disabilities, carers and rural communities.

By way of illustrating the seriousness of the situation: a survey conducted by The Wheel in May this year found that 59% of charities experienced a fall in their income over the past year, while more than two-thirds (67%) reported that demand for their services had increased over the same period. Over a third (36%) of charities had to cut back or suspended services over the same period.

Without a coordinated plan to restore and grow funding for public services, we risk doing permanent damage to Ireland’s social fabric.

Government regularly makes the important point about the need to achieve sustainability in our public finances. We agree. The challenge however is to do this while preserving our social fabric and the public services on which millions of our citizens rely.

Government has a plan to balance national income and expenditure, it has the Haddington Road agreement, it has a jobs plan, but there is no plan to sustain public and social services.

The values underpinning recent budgets have been largely economic in their totality, focused on efficiencies. We are seeing the economic take precedence over the social. The two realms have become disconnected in practice yet remain firmly linked in reality.

A successful economy depends on a successful society: we can’t have one without the other. A plan for sustainable public services is the only way to achieve a sustainable economic recovery. Yet our current national recovery programme is degrading the social basis for a sustainable future.

We are asking Government to develop a cross-departmental plan to restore and grow funding for public services and to ensure no further cuts to these services in Budget 2015. We offer our support to Government to help develop and implement a plan for sustainable public services. We also commit to involving people and communities in this collective effort.

#END

        

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