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Government must increase social welfare rates to support women and lone parents

Published: Tuesday, August 02, 2022

Press Release, 2 August 2022 

Ahead of the launch of its Pre-Budget Submission for Budget 2023, the National Women’s Council (NWC) called on the Government to tackle the cost of living crisis for women through investment in public services and income supports. As priorities, NWC called for an increase in core social welfare rates; the delivery of a universal public childcare model; investment in tackling violence against women; and universal free contraception. NWC will officially launch our submission tomorrow.  

End poverty 

Jennifer McCarthy-Flynn, Head of Policy at the National Women’s Council said, 

“Last year’s social welfare increase was not enough to protect low-income households against inflation. These households have effectively taken a pay cut. Many women, including those who are not able to work or only work very limited hours due to caring for others, ill health, or disability, are being pushed into poverty. Government must take decisive action to protect people from poverty and to ensure a decent income for all.” 

NWC calls on the Government to increase core social welfare payments by at least €20 to address the rising costs of living, and to deliver other targeted supports for those most at risk, such as lone parents.”  

Investment in childcare and public services  

Jennifer McCarthy-Flynn continued,  

“Lack of childcare remains the single biggest barrier to women’s equal participation in employment and public life. There is virtually no public childcare, which is particularly affecting women in marginalised communities.” 

NWC calls on the Government to deliver a universal public childcare model that guarantees access to affordable, quality childcare for parents, as well as better pay and working conditions for early years educators. The investment in childcare should start with a minimum of €250 million in Budget 2023 focused on supporting low-income families.  

Tackling the cost of violence to women  

Jennifer McCarthy-Flynn said,  

“1 in 4 women will experience domestic and/or sexual violence in Ireland. The European Institute of Gender equality (EIGE) has estimated that the cost of gender-based violence for Ireland is €4 billion per year. This includes a variety of costs associated with lost employment and the costs of public and specialist services.“ 

NWC calls on the Government to increase funding for tackling violence against women and to fully fund the implementation of the forthcoming Third National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence. This must include delivery of the much-needed accommodation plan and refuge spaces. 

Ensure income doesn’t impact contraceptive choice or bodily autonomy 

Jennifer McCarthy-Flynn continued,  

“It’s very welcome that free contraception will be available to women aged 17-25, but the need for contraception doesn’t end at 25. Women of all ages must be able to access the contraception most suited to them, no matter their financial circumstances.”  

NWC calls on the government to invest €45m in providing contraception for women aged 26-35.  

The following are NWC’s 10 priority asks for women in Budget 2023:  

Access to universal public childcare  

Deliver a universal, public childcare model starting with an additional investment of €250m in 2023 to address affordability for low-income families and workforce pay.   

2. Tackle the cost of violence to women  

Fully fund the implementation of the Third National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence, including the accommodation plan and refuge spaces.  

3. End poverty  

Increase core social welfare rates by €20 to address the impact of inflation and ensure progress towards a Minimum Essential Standard of Living. 

4. Ensure income doesn’t impact contraceptive choice and bodily autonomy  

Extend universal, free contraception so women have real contraceptive choice and access to the most effective forms, targeting women from 26-35 in 2023. Additional investment: €45m 

5. Address lone parent poverty  

Establish a Statutory Child Maintenance service to ensure adequate and stable income for lone parents. New minimum investment: €2m.  

6. Support marginalised women’s voices and organisations  

Support the participation of marginalised communities/women across the island through increased funding to women’s civil society organisations.  

7. Access to housing and accommodation  

Invest in a major State-led housing programme for provision of public, affordable and cost rental homes and accommodation to mitigate against the high cost of housing on lone parents and low-income families. Double investment to €3bn.  

8. Tackle rising energy costs and climate change  

Provide deep retrofits for low income families and invest in urban and rural public transport.  

9. Protect low income workers  

Increase the Minimum Wage by €1 per hour to protect low-income workers against the rising cost of living.  

10. Support all families to work and care   

Support low-income workers to care for children by increasing Maternity, Paternity and Parent’s Leave payments to €280p.w. in line with EU norms. Additional investment: €40.7m 

Read NWC’s detailed Pre-Budget Submission 2023: https://www.nwci.ie/images/uploads/NWC_PBS_2023_Shaping_our_Future.pdf 


For more information, please contact Sinéad Nolan, Communications and Social Media Coordinator, NWC, Tel. 085 861 9087 

About NWC  

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