Budget 2022: Some positive measures for women but no transformative change – NWC
Published: Tuesday, October 12, 2021
Responding to Budget 2022 today, the National Women’s Council (NWC) welcomed some positive announcements that will improve women’s lives but is disappointed to see no clear transformative investment to tackle structural inequalities experienced by women and increase the pace of change.
NWC had called for investment in the care economy to be a hallmark of Budget 2022. It has never been clearer that care is essential to a functioning economy and society. However, while there are some welcome measures in this regard, Budget 2022 does not deliver the kind of investment in public services and social infrastructure needed for our social and economic recovery.
Orla O’Connor, Director of the National Women’s Council,
“Women already entered the pandemic from an unequal place and the social and economic consequences of this global crisis are disproportionately borne by women. While we acknowledge the positive measures, for example in relation to childcare and parents leave, this Budget is tinkering with an unequal system and will not deliver equality for women or substantially increase the pace of change. We are still missing the transformative investment into our social welfare system and public services infrastructure that would tackle the wide-ranging structural inequalities that women experience.”
Childcare and Family Leave
Orla O’Connor said,
“We welcome the Government’s commitments to mark a turning point in the State’s approach to childcare. However, it is very disappointing and a missed opportunity that the Government does not commit to the development of a public childcare model.
We welcome the new funding stream aimed at increasing the pay and improving working conditions for childcare workers. However, a freezing of fees does nothing to address the longstanding affordability crisis for parents. For women, in particular the many women parenting alone, childcare remains one of the most significant barriers to participate in employment, further education or wider public life.
While it is positive to see efforts to increase access to universal childcare by extending the universal subsidy to children under 15, this is not sufficient to address the very high costs of childcare. We are missing a dedicated multi annual investment plan that would move Ireland towards a public, not for profit childcare model. This model has proved to be the best way to provide accessible, affordable, quality childcare for parents and decent working conditions and pay for the childcare workforce.”
Orla O’Connor continued,
“The increase in parents leave is a step along the way to delivering our commitments under the EU Directive on Work Life Balance but it signals little ambition beyond this minimum legal requirement. We are disappointed that lone parents still cannot access the same level of support under the Scheme as two parent families.
It is positive to see some action on increasing the pay of family leave by €5. However, it does not alter the fact that Ireland continues to have zero weeks of what is called ‘well paid’ parental leave. Family leave pay equates to less than 30% of average pay in Ireland compared to 66% of average pay in other EU countries. We need to increase the rate of payment if we want to incentivise a greater sharing of caring responsibilities.”
Social Welfare and Pensions
Sandra McCullagh, Women’s Economic Equality Coordinator with NWC said,
“NWC welcome that pensions and core social welfare payments have increased in this Budget. However, an increase of at least € 10 would have been needed in order to bring us closer to the Minimum Essential Standards of Living.
We welcome the efforts to improve the situation for lone parents in relation to changes to the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance. However, we would have liked Jobseekers Transition Payment extended to lone parents in work, education or training until their youngest child finishes school in acknowledgement that lone parents are both the primary earners and primary caregivers for their families.
We also welcome the efforts to expand eligibility for Carer’s Allowance. As the first major reform of this payment in 14 years, these changes were long overdue.
However, we are disappointed to see no dedicated measures to address the structural inequalities in our pension system. Older women were expected by Irish society to take on the full weight of caring responsibilities but their contributions are still not fully recognised by our pension system.”
NWC has issued a separate statement in relation to women’s health in Budget 2022: https://www.nwci.ie/learn/article/nwc_welcomes_milestone_on_free_contraception_and_dedicated_funding_for_wome
For more information, please contact Silke Paasche, Head of Communications, NWC, Tel. 085 858 9104.
The National Women’s Council is the leading national representative organisation for women and women’s groups in Ireland, founded in 1973. We have over 190-member groups and a large and growing community of individual supporters.
The ambition of the National Women’s Council is an Ireland where every woman enjoys true equality and no woman is left behind. This ambition shapes and informs our work, and, with our living values, how we work. We are a movement-building organisation rooted in our membership, working on the whole island of Ireland. We are also part of the international movement to protect and advance women’s and girls’ rights. Our purpose is to lead action for the achievement of women’s and girls’ equality through mobilising, influencing, and building solidarity.
Find out more on www.nwci.ie