The Irish Local Development Network (ILDN) have pointed to the importance of the Social Inclusion Community Activation Programme (SICAP) as a tool to respond to the challenges of poverty and deprivation. In figures published today (Tuesday) by the Central Statistics office (CSO), those classified as being ‘at risk of poverty’ was 12.8%. Those most at risk of poverty in 2019 were individuals who were not at work due to illness or disability (37.5%) and those who were unemployed (35.4%). This compares with an at risk of poverty rate of just 4.6% for those that described their principal economic status as ‘at work’.
The Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP), delivered by ILDN member Local Development Companies (LDCs), provides funding to tackle poverty and social exclusion through local engagement and partnerships between disadvantaged individuals, community organisations and public sector agencies. SICAP addresses high and persistent levels of deprivation through targeted and innovative, locally-led approaches. It supports disadvantaged communities and individuals including unemployed people, people living in deprived areas, people with disabilities, single parent families, people on a low income, members of the Traveller and Roma community and other disadvantaged groups.
The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to exacerbate the figures published today and push more and more people to being classified as being at the risk of poverty. Continued Government support for the SICAP will be an important tool to help alleviate this risk going forward. As it stands the SICAP remains at approximately 50% of what it was in 2008 (€43m 2021, €84.7m 2008).
ILDN SICAP providers played a central role in communities across the country in responding to needs which emerged during the COVID-19 lockdown and beyond. 2,200 individuals daily sought the assistance of their Local Development Company (LDC) during the lockdown period earlier this year and now LDCs have adapted their services to meet community needs during the current Level 5 restrictions.