Review Consultation re. NAP for Social Inclusion 2007 - 2016 and Updated Plan 2015 -2017 (NAPinclusion 2007 -2017)
Irish Local Development Network CLG (ILDN) is the representative body for the country’s 49 Local Development Companies (LDCs). These are multi-sectoral partnerships that deliver social inclusion, community and rural development, labour market activation and social enterprise services. LDCs support more than 15,000 communities and community groups and 173,000 individuals annually through €330 million of state-funded programmes. The national Social Inclusion Community Activation Programme (SICAP) is delivered exclusively state-wide by 46 ILDN member organisations. ILDN supports its members through liaison with funders, research and policy development, publicity and communications, networking opportunities, advocacy and representation, training, group procurement (e.g. insurance), vetting, employer issues etc.
Review of Plan
ILDN welcomes the opportunity to participate in the public consultation to review the Implementation of the National Action Plan for Social Inclusion 2007 – 2017. Our submission focusses particularly on the Updated Plan 2015 – 2017.
The Plan has made an important contribution to facilitating a more inclusive society through the setting of targets and the provision of monitoring and oversight as well as reporting on same. However, progress on many of the plan’s themes has been slow and, in some cases, regressive.
Low Pay - Ireland continues to have the highest incidence of low pay in the EU 15 at 23% of the workforce, increased from 20% in 2006. Whilst the state ameliorates this through welfare transfers (Working Family Payment and Jobseekers Allowance for part-time workers) to such an extent that the in-work poverty rate is low by European standards, labour market and wage policies that force citizens into welfare are detrimental to inclusion and full participation in society. Wage policy is therefore a core aspect of inclusion.
Employment Security - is also a core component of inclusive labour practices. Whilst casual and irregular employment has a role to play in a dynamic economy, citizens must not be denied the opportunity for regular, protected work with fair contracting conditions. Weak public provision of vital services (childcare, housing, health, addiction and transport services) compound the effects of precarious employment in Ireland, impacting on the health (physical and mental) and social participation rates of citizens.
Employment Services – key aspects of current employment services are impacting negatively on the promotion of social inclusion e.g.
1. the lack of a national employment service,
2. the practical exclusion of those not on the Live Register from existing services,
3. limiting those who are very distant from job-readiness to a single year on Tús,
4. part-time work is a valid pathway to progress in employment especially for those most distant from the labour market. Currently, employment of less than 30 hours per week is not given sufficient recognition in DEASP outputs and incentives,
5. the privatisation of employment services on a payment-by-results basis,
6. Employment services generally require a greater focus on soft supports (confidence-building, personal development, dealing with anxiety and low esteem) for those who are socially excluded and most distant from the labour market.
Linkage to Wider Social Inclusion Provision - Overall, the linkage of the Action Plan to the state’s national Social Inclusion Programme (SICAP) is weak. DEASP’s annual Social Inclusion Forum plays a useful function in giving a voice to socially excluded groups but this needs to be complemented by greater links to the Programme and data from the ongoing SICAP monitoring framework.
Linkage to Community Policy – similarly, the Communities section of the Updated Action Plan would benefit from greater alignment with the Local & Community Development in Ireland (Our Communities) Framework Policy. Whilst Goals 11 - 14 of the Plan are titled ‘Communities’, they do not mention community work or work at community level, so it is not possible to monitor results in a community context.
Relevance of Institutional, Monitoring and Governance Structures – given the location of the national social inclusion programme, SICAP, in the Department of Rural & Community Development, this may be a more suitable base for the Plan – alternatively, greater linkage between the Plan and the wider statutory social inclusion framework is required. ENDS 15/01/2019