Social Inclusion: Jobless Households at Risk
Ireland’s system of social transfers is “the most effective in reducing poverty”, claims Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton TD.
Minister Burton was speaking at the Social Inclusion Forum in the Croke Park Conference Centre in Dublin. The event was designed to provide an opportunity for engagement between officials from Government Departments, community and voluntary organisations, and people experiencing poverty.
“I am very conscious of how crucial our welfare expenditure is in protecting the most vulnerable and minimising poverty during the economic crisis. This is precisely why I protected the core weekly social welfare payments in Budget 2012, and again in Budget 2013,” the Minister said.
According to the The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), a key risk factor for poverty and social exclusion in Ireland is that of jobless households.
Households in which no adult works are far more prevalent in Ireland than in any other EU member state. Acccording to the Minister, they comprise 24 per cent of the Irish population from infancy to age 59 years.
“The percentage of jobless households actually increased during the peak period of the economic boom, indicating a structural problem that was never sufficiently addressed by previous governments,” Minister Burton said. “It is essential we now act to tackle the issue, as jobless households have a high risk of poverty, despite being in receipt of significant welfare payments. We need structural reform of the welfare system to enable all working-age adults to access the labour market and to ensure that a large segment of the population is not permanently cast aside and consigned to a lifetime without work.”
Speaking on the Government’s commitment to tackling poverty, the Minister said simply, “we are determined to succeed.”
“Developing an inclusive society will require a joined-up policy approach, linking together income support, inclusive labour markets and access to services. My Department has a central role to play in this,” said Minister Burton.