Barely Getting By - Citizens Information Board Highlights Citizens’ Concerns ahead of Budget 2019

September 2018

Over one million queries inform Citizens Information Board pre-budget submission.

Citizens Information Board-funded delivery services dealt with over one million queries and assisted over 700,000 callers to access a wide range of social, public and financial services in 2017. Drawing from those experiences, the ‘Barely Getting By’ pre-budget submission highlights how a targeted approach by Government in Budget 2019 could more effectively support people with disabilities, low paid workers, lone parents, carers, long-term unemployed and older people.

Angela Black, Chief Executive, CIB said: “The unique vantage point of the Citizens Information and MABS services across the country gives a keen insight into the experiences of people accessing social and financial services.” She added: “The CIB pre-budget submission speaks to the experiences of people who are barely getting by on a day-to-day basis. When a problem hits such as illness, a reduction in working hours, or a rent increase they really struggle. For many clients public services are essential to enable them to cope with limited means in difficult circumstances. It is important, therefore, that we highlight and recommend where improvements can be made.”

The submission makes recommendations in areas that include housing, debt and affordable credit, welfare supports for workers, and the provision of benefits and services.

The highlights of some of the more topical issues are in summary below. The full report can be accessed at:

http://www.citizensinformationboard.ie/en/publications/social_policy/prebudget_submissions.html

Pre-Budget Submission Highlights

Debt and financial issues impacting MABS clients

Recommendations include:

Fuel Poverty

The issue of fuel poverty was highlighted following the publication of a MABS report. It found that seven in ten households within their client group were in fuel poverty with over 55% of households reporting that they had gone without heating in the previous 12 months due to lack of money. The issue was of particular concern amongst Travellers.

Recommendation:

Housing and Housing Supports

During 2017, staff in information services responded to over 100,000 queries relating to housing issues. Many difficulties originate from low security, low stability, low quality and high-cost housing. Particular concerns that come up time and again include:

Recommendations include:

Home Care Services

Feedback from CIB funded services, including Citizens Information Services and the National Advocacy Service (NAS) for People with Disabilities, indicate that the Home Care sector is not well regulated. There are significant challenges facing people with disabilities and older people in getting the supports they need to live at home or to transition from hospital back to home.

In particular, NAS advocates have encountered cases where lack of funding for personal assistance hours for people with disabilities has led to individuals being unable to remain in their own homes and having to move into residential settings.

Recommendations:

Other recommendations in the report include:

Work and Welfare