More social spending is needed to meet the rising cost of living

Social pay in Ireland is “exceptionally low by EU standards”, according to a report released by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) on International Workers’ Day.

The Social Wages report compares public expenditure and public revenue with those of European countries in terms of unemployment benefits, housing and childcare.

The social wage is described as the “measure of the betterment of the situation of individuals through government social expenditure on social support and services”.

Although Ireland has the second highest minimum wage of the 21 EU member states, the ICTU says the low social wage makes the country’s position misleading.

Taking into account additional data, including the fact that Ireland is ranked the second most expensive country out of 27 EU countries, the ICTU says: “When adjusted for purchasing power minimum wage workers, Ireland moves up from second to seventh in the ranking and behind other wealthy EU member states.”

In the pocket

The group, which represents 45 unions across Ireland, says increasing the provision of public services is a way for the government to reduce the cost of living, explaining: “Free or low-cost essential services provided by public funds reduce the disbursement of their income”.

The ICTU adds that Ireland has the lowest level of public spending per capita compared to similar EU countries, including Germany, France, Belgium, Austria and Denmark.

The report suggests that Ireland’s low-tax economy gives the government room to raise revenue by raising tax rates to fund additional social spending to enable a more generous social wage.

In terms of housing, the ICTU says an overreliance on the private sector contributes to rent inflation, while being “poor value for money for the public purse, landlords, rather than tenants.” ‘state, accumulating assets’.

Their group said the lack of affordable housing is “laid bare” by figures showing an “unprecedented number of homeless individuals and families”.

“A less visible manifestation of our failing housing system is the high proportion of full-time workers living with their parents,” adds the ICTU, with 62% of these workers saying they do so for “mainly” financial reasons.

“Worn out social safety net”

While acknowledging that Covid-19 was an “unprecedented public health crisis and the greatest economic shock in state history,” Congress says the pandemic “has exposed the weakness in our threadbare social safety net. “.

“The pandemic has caused many to question the purpose of our social protection system. We are now at a time when there is broad public support for a strong safety net to be in place.

“It is time to think seriously about the role of government in protecting people’s standard of living from common risks, including expanding access to affordable housing, child and adult care, to free healthcare and education, and to heavily subsidized and sufficient public transport,” the report said. concludes.