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Budget 2010: hitting the poorest people and most marginalised communities

Posted in Blog by saraburke on December 18, 2009

As the dust begins to settle on Budget 2010, the real impact of this budget on people’s health and well-being is beginning to emerge. How will Budget 2010 hurt some of the poorest and most marginalised in our community? This blog looks at the impact of the cuts on some community projects and the response of the Community Platform.

On Monday of this week, 30 of the 180 community development projects heard through e mail that they were no longer “viable” and funding would cease on 31 December. These are projects working with Travellers, with marginalsied urban and rural communities. Projects in the North Inner City (run by the legendary Seanie Lambe), in Ballyfermot, Ballymun and Clondalkin are up for the chop.

The other 150 projects, if the want to continue to be funded, are to be merged with their local partnership boards – this means they will loose their local autonomy, being led by local people and their  ability to respond flexibly to local needs.

These projects are often based in the poorest communities, they provide many vital services such as

  • childcare, after school prog, groups for older people, PWD, lone parents
  • they are locally run and often provide employment to local people in the projects and on Community Employment schemes
  • they act as a hub for funding for other services and supports such as primary care teams
  • they are the vital link between community and state services
  • In 1990, there were 15. Now, there are 180 CDPs around the country which have been invested in hugely over the last 15-20 years.

And is it just community projects that are being cut. This is where the invisible bits of the budget are emerging. Yesterday am on Morning Ireland Emma O’Kelly talked through 55 posts being lost in the youth services, the drugs task force budget being cut by one third.

Many of these projects are the fabric of these communities, a life line for the most marginalsied and these are bearing the brunt of the government cuts. Described before like building a railway infrastructure, it takes decades to build but can be taken apart very quickly but the ramifications will be felt for decades.

I also attended a meeting today (17 December) of the Community Platform opposing the budget cuts. The Community Platform, which is network of organisations and networks working against poverty and inequality, met today to express their outrage at the impact of the budget on the most vulnerable. They clearly outlined how this government’s budget choose to hit the poor. They outlined a range of measures where the government could have saved money without cutting social welfare, the wages of very low earners, carers, PWD, lone parents and struggling families.

And in particular they were making the point about the collective impact of the budget on low income families, that it is not one measure alone but the cumulative impact that a range of measures such as lowering income in terms of cuts carers, social welfare, low public sector wages. These combined with increased charges for dental care and prescriptions, plus the cuts to community projects- combined will hit the poorest and the most vulnerable.

Donal Toolin who is a disability rights activist spoke most eloquently about this today about his experience of disability, about how people like him  who are poor get sick more often and die younger, he spoke @ cumulative health impact of being a wheel chair user for 30 yrs, about being a rights activist for 20 years and while we don’t know the specific societal consequences of last week’s budget, we know it will directly push more people into poverty & early death.

He also talked about the psychological impact, and what we have done as a society for the last 20 years is to celebrate success, the less you have the less valuable you are and the profound psychological impact of poverty, the message he gets when he goes into his social welfare office, is ‘you are a failure’. He spoke clearly about the impact this has on mental health and yet the utter failure of the State to develop adequate community mental health services in the decades we had money.

Tony McCashin from Trinity spoke about the complexity and the unfairness of the Irish tax system, how recommendations had been their since the 1980s about making the tax system simpler and fairer – yet these been ignored by government.  CP have v clear facts and figures about how the €1.8 billion in cuts to social welfare and front line public services could be got from standardising all tax reliefs and how this would be a much fairer measure.  More http://communityplatform.ie/index.php?mact=News,cntnt01,detail,0&cntnt01articleid=18&cntnt01origid=114&cntnt01returnid=114

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