Budget 2021: “Build on the positives and address shortcomings”, says COPE Galway
5 October 2020
COPE Galway has set out a range of measures for inclusion in Budget 2021 in their pre-budget submission to the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform this week. The local voluntary and community sector agency plays a vital role in addressing homelessness, domestic abuse and the needs of older people in Galway.
Their submission points to the speedy and effective combined response to address the needs of the vulnerable at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic by Government, state agencies and voluntary and community sector groups, as an example of what’s possible when there is political will and the necessary resources made available.
“These past seven months and more have been very challenging for many across our community due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet we’ve also seen what can be achieved in terms of supporting the most vulnerable,” says Martin O’Connor of COPE Galway. “We are only too aware of the demands Government faces in framing Budget 2021, but we also see the opportunity to build on the positives of the past number of months by continuing with what has been so encouraging in addressing the shortcomings that still exist. We have highlighted these in our submission for addressing Budget 2021”.
The vital importance of having adequate, appropriate and secure housing for all in society is a strong theme in COPE Galway’s pre-budget submission. As a matter of priority, the organisation requests a referendum on enshrining the right to housing in the Irish Constitution. The submission also sets out a number of specific measures to address homelessness. These include increasing social housing supply through new build, with a mix of dwelling types and sizes that correspond to the profile of households on social housing waiting lists (including single and older people), and increase the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) limits to reflect actual asking market rent levels.
In measures regarding domestic abuse, COPE Galway again takes the opportunity to highlight to Government its commitment under the Istanbul Convention to put in place an additional 331 refuge spaces for victims of domestic abuse in order to have one family place per 10,000 of population available nationally.
The submission also highlights Ireland’s increasing older population and how this is presenting new challenges in the areas of healthcare, pensions and housing. COPE Galway reminds Government of its stated policy to support older people to live in their own home with dignity and independence for as long as possible. COPE Galway calls for a number of measures in Budget 2021 to include the introduction of a single-rate universal state social welfare pension; increases in the state pension and living alone allowance by €5 and €6 per week respectively; increased funding of Housing Adaptation grants; additional resources and funding to address the urgent waiting lists for home help hours and an increase in the number of hours provided.
The submission returns to a subject COPE Galway have continuously highlighted to Government over the past number of years: include a nutritional assessment in the proposed Statutory Homecare Scheme.
Regarding health measures, COPE Galway seeks the allocation of €500m towards initial infrastructure to ensure the speedy implementation of Sláintecare; prioritising the rollout of the Integrated Care Framework; investment in mental health in primary care and the provision of additional technological resources to support the use of online mental health services.
You can read the full submission at copegalway.ie/publications/pre-budget-submissions.
For more information contact Martin O’Connor, COPE Galway Assistant CEO, Tel 091 778 750
Note to Editor:
COPE Galway is a local Galway organisation whose vision is for a community where every person is valued, cared for and supported at every stage of life. COPE Galway understands, respects and responds to the needs of people who struggle with the challenges of homelessness and domestic abuse and supports older people towards healthy and active ageing.
In 2019, COPE Galway worked with 2,984 vulnerable people in Galway. This included 1,189 adults and 433 children affected by homelessness, (187 families and 868 single people). They also worked with 638 individual women and their children who were experiencing Domestic Abuse, produced and delivered 61,016 meals to older clients and to their services around Galway and worked with 724 older people at risk of isolation. The organisation also supported 2,938 individuals with food from the Fund for European Aid to the most Deprived (FEAD) Programme and distributed over 700 school kits.
COPE Galway’s new strategy for 2020-2025 focuses the organisation on its mission: Making a difference by empowering people, creating change and strengthening communities. COPE Galway places its values – rights, respect, hope, community, safety and professionalism – at the heart of its work in the community.