Vol 9 • Issue 3 • Winter 2010
PAGE 7 BUDGET 2011
With the national crisis assuming ever increasing levels of intensity, and with hundreds of thousands of people fearing for their livelihoods and those of their families and friends next year, the values of belonging and caring that underpin the work of Ireland’s 7,500 charities are more relevant than ever, says Ivan Cooper.
WHY IRELAND’S SOCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE SHOULD BE PROTECTED A
s well as being a vital expression
of citizenship voluntary organisations are key deliverers of services for children, older people and people with intellectual and physical disabilities, they provide social housing, they help the homeless and hungry, raise funds for development aid, they assist people in deprived urban and rural communities, and provide sports and recreation facilities.
Two-thirds of Irish adults (that’s over two million people) engage annually in the social, cultural and humanitarian activities offered by our community and voluntary sector that contributes over €2.5bn to the economy each year and employs over 63,000 full- time and part-time staff. Volunteers provide the work of a further 31,000 full-time-equivalents.
The demand on the services provided by our voluntary
organisations has increased significantly over 2010 and demand is set to spectacularly increase in 2011. Community and voluntary organisations
• are flexible and nimble- footed and able to innovate when faced with rapidly changing circumstances.
• tap into the commitment of energised volunteers who bring powerful personal motivations to achieving positive social change
• often raise additional funds from diverse sources to complement statutory provision.
• are generally rooted in the experience of people experiencing disadvantage and they are well placed to advocate for people in need as a result.
Policymakers acknowledge that that contribution of voluntary organisations is
going to increase as Ireland wrestles with the twin challenges of increasing demands flowing from our damaged economy coupled with the depressing realities of our already inadequate social provision
Yet the thousands of voluntary organisations that make up a big part of Ireland’s social infrastructure are now facing expenditure cuts while Ireland’s total tax take remains one of the lowest in the developed world and it continues to fall as a percentage of national income.
“The demand on the services provided by our voluntary organisations has increased significantly over 2010 and demand is set to spectacularly increase in 2011.”
Such expenditure cuts are unacceptable given that we are not a poor country, despite recent economic setbacks.
If the Government adopts an integrated approach to recovery - which should include the protection of our social services and a policy of ensuring that those who can afford it will pay more - there will be less hardship for thousands of vulnerable people.
The thousands of
community and voluntary organisations in Ireland are innovators and problem- solvers and will play an important part in maintaining social cohesion and in innovating new and improved ways of delivering services and supports for people in the radically changed environment which are now facing. The community and voluntary sector is part of the solution – not part of the problem – and must be supported if
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