European Anti-Poverty Network Ireland – Newsflash December 2021
EAPN Ireland would like to wish you all a very happy Christmas and all the best for 2022. It has been an extremely challenging year for many, and moving past COVID-19 has been a slow and often disheartening process. We commend the commitment of those working on the front-line, health-workers, employees in hospitals, medical centres, nursing and care homes, those in education, in retail and transport, who continue to provide our essential services. The Community and Voluntary Sector has once again provided ongoing and vital supports and strongly advocated for those in society who are most marginalised and most negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
We hope that 2022 will enable us to progressively and decisively move towards a post-pandemic society based on equality and social inclusion. We hope by Christmas next year we will be able to speak of the crisis of COVID-19 in the past tense and not as a current challenge impacting the lives of so many.
May you have a peaceful healthy and safe festive season.
Paul Irene and Maureen.
EAPN Ireland Statement SILC Results for 2020
EAPN Ireland has issued a statement on results of SILC (Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) 2020). Data published as part of SILC shows that 5% of the Irish population is living in consistent poverty as they have income below the poverty line and are experiencing enforced deprivation. With the Government committed to reducing consistent poverty to 2% or less by 2025, EAPN Ireland is asking the Government to recognise the need for urgent measures in order to address poverty. You can read the EAPN Ireland statement here.
Submission on the Review of the Equality Acts
Please find enclosed a submission for the Add the 10th Alliance on the review of the Equality Acts. The Alliance, made up of seven organisations, is advocating for the inclusion of socio-economic discrimination in Irish equality legalisation, acknowledging the intersection of socio-discrimination with other grounds of discrimination already covered within equality legislation.
You can also read the EAPN Ireland submission on the Review of the Equality Acts.
Thank you to the Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice and Dr Bernadette Mac Mahon
The Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice (VPSJ) is sadly winding up and on Thursday December 9th VPSJ held its final seminar on the Minimum Essential Standard of Living Reference budget, which they have tirelessly worked on for the past 22 years. The MESL research has proved to be an invaluable tool in the advocacy of EAPN Ireland. We would like to thank everyone in VPSJ for the work they have done which has provided so many in the Community and Voluntary Sector with a solid foundation for their advocacy and policy development, rooted in the reality of what it means to live below the poverty line in Ireland. EAPN Ireland will continue to support the MESL research as it enters into a new phase.
We would like to take this opportunity to wish Bernadette MacMahon, Director of VPSJ, all the very best on her retirement and thank her for her constant commitment and dedication to highlighting and addressing poverty and social exclusion in Ireland throughout the years. Her presence, and the presence of VPSJ, will be greatly missed within the sector.
EAPN Europe News
Meeting of People experiencing Poverty-November 24th to 25th
Healthcare, housing, minimum income and digitalisation are more than political buzzwords. EAPN coordinated the EU Meeting of People Experiencing Poverty – a hybrid meeting on 24-25 November – where people experiencing poverty shared their personal experiences on how policies are affecting them and their everyday lives. A delegation from Ireland joined 260 participants to share their views experiences and solutions to poverty and inequality. Issues discussed were healthcare privatisation, budget cuts and coverage; housing costs, discrimination and the lack of rights to housing and universal healthcare, as well as inadequate minimum incomes and digital exclusion. Clear solutions were found but policy-makers must find concrete ways forward, designing relevant policies alongside people who are experiencing poverty. You can read more about PEP 2021 here.
The Green Transition must be Socially Just
The EU’s “Fit for 55” package pursues a clear goal: cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030. However, the package is less clear on how to address the social aspects of this ambitious transition. EAPN flagged three caveats: higher energy bills owing to the ETS for road transport and buildings, more exclusive mobility through electrification, and better access to the green job market for low-skilled workers. EAPN identifies ways to put the most vulnerable at the forefront of the green transition. You can read more here.
Energy Poor need immediate relief- EAPN Statement
As energy prices skyrocket, millions of Europeans are forced into unacceptable choices between heating and housing. Re-elected EAPN President Carlos Susias urged EU institutions and Member States to protect the most vulnerable citizens and make their voice heard in the decision-making process. EAPN also calls for immediate relief for people unable to afford enough energy as well as long-term measures to address the root causes of energy poverty and ensure an inclusive transition to a low-carbon economy. You can read the full statement here.
Member States fail to Champion the Rights of all Children- Joint Statement
In October 2021, EU Member States failed to adopt Council Conclusions in support of the EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child. This comes at a time when so many children are exposed to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic where we witness an alarming rise in child poverty, violence, exploitation and abuse. EAPN together with 17 other NGOs called on the Council to live up to international and EU obligations and champion the rights of all children, both within and outside of the EU. You can read the joint statement here.
Can the EU guarantee a fair and adequate Minimum Wage?
A new EU law is on the way that could improve living standards for over 25 million workers and their families. In November 2021, 443 of the 751 MEPs backed a proposal that aims to guarantee employees a fair and adequate minimum wage. EU labour ministers presented their position in December. They do not want to harmonise systems or wages but have agreed to monitor the coverage and adequacy of minimum wages and report back every two years. The European Commission, European Parliament and EU Council will start negotiating a final text under the French Presidency in 2022. You can read more here.
Combating Gender based Poverty- European Parliament
More than 91 million people were at risk of poverty in Europe in 2019. The EU wants to reduce this by 15 million by 2030 but the question remains as to how this will be achieved. The European Parliament has decided to take a closer look at the situation of women in Europe, who are at higher risk of poverty throughout their lifetime. The gap is widening as women get older, indicating unequal access to a decent income for women throughout their career. EAPN has advocated to MEPs the need for targeted policies, inclusive labour markets and inclusive essential services to combat poverty for all. Further reading here.