16 October 2014
A wide-ranging survey of civil society organisations published today indicates that while Budget 2015 may have offered some positive measures for various social groups, it does not go far enough to restore or protect basic rights downgraded over several years of austerity.
Legal rights group FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres) is hosting a post-budget forum in Dublin this morning, where civil society organisations are responding to Budget 2015 in terms of how it impacts on the people they work with, using a human rights framework.
Despite the increases in welfare rates and payments, organisations working in areas right across society - social welfare, minorities, health, children, LGBT, women, disabled persons, education and older people - saw either no change or a reduction in accessibility to rights from Budget 2015.
The survey was conducted by FLAC and its PILA project on some 39 organisations across all areas of society in the aftermath of Budget 2015. “These results show that groups do recognise that some efforts were bring made by government, but it is interesting to note that there was no sense of elation or even cautious optimism across the 39 participating bodies. Most felt there was no profound improvement for their target groups, and in some cases they were quite negative,” said FLAC Director General Noeline Blackwell.
The impact of serial austerity budgets was clear, with most organisations feeling that rights of people in their target group have been downgraded.
They were concerned about pressure on services and felt all of society would suffer from heightened levels of inequality that had emerged over the past years. “This finding in particular will cause concern for Government as it seeks to bring about a social recovery as well as an economic renewal,” commented Ms Blackwell.
Some highlights include:
“What is clear from the survey is that accessibility, affordability and adequacy of rights have not been sufficiently considered in Budget 2015,” said FLAC Policy & Advocacy Officer Yvonne O’Sullivan.
“The recession and austerity measures had a devastating impact on the public service infrastructure on which many of these groups here today rely. It will take a profound and long-term re-investment to restore this infrastructure to a standard that meets even basic human rights requirements. If the state were to apply human rights analysis to budgeting decisions – pre-assessing how a measure may impact on people’s basic rights – it will go a long way to assisting in that process,” concluded Ms O’Sullivan.
The organisations participating in the survey were almost unanimous in calling for the state to adopt a human rights approach to budgeting.