Since 1997 Ireland has developed national anti-poverty strategies to provide a strategic framework in which to tackle poverty and social exclusion. Over time a range of national sectoral strategies have been developed across government which include social inclusion as a core objective. The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP) has overall responsibility for the development of a whole-of-government policy focusing on reducing poverty and improving social inclusion. This policy recognises the strong role that other departments play, alongside DEASP, in delivering poverty reduction and social inclusion objectives.
In January 2020, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection published the Roadmap for Social Inclusion 2020 - 2025 Ambition, Goals and Commitments . This whole-of-government strategy will build on the work of its predecessors with the aim of reducing the number of people in consistent poverty in Ireland and increasing social inclusion for those who are most disadvantaged
Measuring Poverty in Ireland: The official measure of poverty in Ireland is 'consistent poverty'. This indicator is the overlap of two component indicators:
This consistent poverty measure reflects the multidimensional understanding of poverty and is designed to identify the population with the greatest needs in terms of being both income- poor and deprived.
Poverty and social inclusion rates are taken from the household income and living conditions data collected by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) through the EU Survey on Income and Living Conditions. The most recent poverty data can be found here
National Social Target for Poverty Reduction: The National Social Target for Poverty Reduction (NSTPR) was agreed in 2012 and aimed to reduce the percentage of the population in consistent poverty to 2% or less by 2020, from a baseline rate of 6.3% in 2010.
Over the following years, the national consistent poverty rate rose, reaching 9.1% by 2013. The most recent data, taken from the 2018 EU Survey on Income and Living Conditions and published by the CSO in November 2019, showed that the percentage of the population in consistent poverty in 2018 was 5.6%.
There are two other components of the NSTPR:
Progress towards these targets is reported in the Social Inclusion Monitor, which is produced by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection on an annual basis following the publication of the latest poverty data by the CSO.
The Roadmap for Social Inclusion 2020 - 2025 Ambition, Goals and Commitments was published in January 2020. It is the successor to the National Action Plan for Social Inclusion which concluded at the end of 2017 and is the latest in a series of such plans dating back to 1997.
The Roadmap will build on the work of its predecessors with the aim of reducing the number of people in consistent poverty in Ireland and increasing social inclusion for those who are most disadvantaged. This is reflected in its ambition to “Reduce consistent poverty to 2% or less and to make Ireland one of the most socially inclusive countries in the EU”.
The Roadmap is an overarching statement of Government strategy, which acknowledges the range of sectoral plans already in place that have social inclusion as a core objective, in areas such as education, health, children and childcare, community development and housing. These plans remain key to ensuring that social inclusion is at the core of public policy and service strategy across all government departments and services.
The Government is committed to engagement with a wide range of stakeholders with an interest and involvement in social inclusion policies and practice. Engagement with people experiencing poverty and social exclusion, and the community & voluntary groups that represent them, is an important facet of the monitoring and development of government policy on poverty and social exclusion.
Engagement takes place on an ongoing basis throughout the year and in a variety of fora organised by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, and also in the interactions between all Government departments and the various representative groups (including national and international NGOs and national and local community & voluntary groups). At a local level department representatives are members of Local Community & Development Committees, along with representatives from other departments and/or state agencies, and regularly engage with other local community structures.
These regular interactions and conversations continuously inform the development, implementation and evaluation of poverty reduction and social inclusion policy.
The annual Social Inclusion Forum, which is organised by the Department of Employment Affairs & Social Protection, provides the opportunity for people experiencing poverty and social exclusion and the community & voluntary sector groups that represent them to engage directly with policy officials and policy makers from a range of government departments. It allows for a robust debate between the attendees about the policy and social exclusion issues that most concern them. A conference report is prepared each year and is laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas
Each year the Department provides funding for small public awareness initiatives to promote awareness of the UN International Day for the Eradication of Poverty and support the work of the Irish 17 October Committee in networking with the groups responsible for the various commemorative initiatives and projects nationwide. This funding is open to anti-poverty organisations and groups working with people experiencing poverty at national or local level.
The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection also supports work of the Young Social Innovators (YSI). The YSI programme aims to raise social awareness among 15-18 year olds in Ireland so that they might become effective champions for social justice. The Department sponsors the school poverty challenge ‘Making Our Country More Inclusive & Poverty Free’. More information on the types of projects funded in recent years under this programme is available here
The Department’s research programme has played a central role in informing national anti-poverty strategies and action plans for social inclusion and the Department funds two separate poverty and social inclusion research streams.
The first provides for a multi-annual programme of research and consultancy to monitor and report on progress towards the national social target for poverty reduction, and on related poverty trends. The research analyses the latest national data on income, deprivation and services from the annual Survey in Income and Living Conditions (SILC), to identify trends, conduct comparative EU analysis and to indicate the implications for policy. The current contract is with the Irish Economic Social and Research Institute (ESRI).
A second funding stream is available to promote research excellence and innovation on poverty and social exclusion among third level institutions. In recent years funding has been provided through a research programme coordinated by the Irish Research Council.
The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection has overall responsibility for the monitoring and evaluation of the whole-of-government policy focusing on reducing poverty and improving social inclusion. A number of approaches are used to achieve this:
Annual Social Inclusion Monitor: as previously mentioned the Department produces the Social Inclusion Monitor which is the official report on progress towards the National Social Target for Poverty Reduction and the sub-target on child poverty and Ireland’s contribution to the Europe 2020 poverty target (section 2: Key Policy Information).
Poverty Impact Assessment (formerly poverty proofing) is a requirement under the Revised Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) Guidelines 2009, and Sn 3.4 of the Cabinet Handbook for preparing Memos for Government. It is the process by which government departments, local authorities and State agencies assess policies and programmes at design, implementation and review stages in relation to the likely impact that they will have or have had on poverty and on inequalities which are likely to lead to poverty, with a view to poverty reduction.
Social Impact Assessment is an evidence-based methodology to estimate the likely distributive effects of policy proposals on income and social inequality. It uses a tax-welfare simulation model known as SWITCH, which was developed by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), to measure the distributive and poverty impacts of policies on family types, lifecycle groups and gender. Since Budget 2013, the Department has published an integrated SIA which includes the main welfare and direct tax measures in annual budgets. Its purpose is to inform public understanding on the cumulative effect of budgetary policies on income distribution and social equality.