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Pre-Budget Submission 2020

Housing and Homelessness

Housing and Homelessness have been critical issues over the last number of years. Affordability is out of the reach of many ordinary people and this cascades down to many others in society. In August 10,338 people are homeless, 3,848 of whom are children. The number of children without a home has now risen by a quarter in the last two years. Youth Homelessness and student accommodation are two major issues for young people.

We need to prevent young people from becoming homeless in the first place. The Government must give tenants greater security so young people can plan for their future. If young people become homeless the services and emergency accommodation, they receive must be designed to meet their specific needs. Young LGBTQ+ people are at higher risk of homelessness across the world. Homeless services should be LGBTQ+ – friendly and staff should be trained to respond to specific needs. The Government must guarantee that all young people leaving State Care have a secure home.

  • Establish a €100m dedicated Youth Homeless Strategy financed from a vacant homes tax and a stricter vacant sites system which would also free up critical supply of homes and land

Climate

A political system that would seek to ignore the massive marches and gatherings by teenagers seeking change on climate policy would be tone deaf in the extreme. Young people in an unmediated way have taken up the issue in the belief that adults have failed them. Most of all the teen led climate protests have drawn attention to the fact that all the research and facts are there as indeed are the projections, what is needed is action.

In Irelands case our contribution to what is needed globally is even more important as we are almost bottom of the EU table in this area and these targets are the minimum needed in the immediate future. Individuals will have to be open to change in all walks of life to meet the climate challenge, but Governments need to take the lead. The key areas that need attention are energy use, transport, and agriculture. 

  • An enhanced carbon tax with a rebate scheme for lower incomes and a surplus to fund critical climate change measures
  • Levy on single use coffee cups
  • Abolish VAT exemption on airline fuel
  • Fast track Ireland’s move towards being a renewable energy leader particularly in the field of wind. Enhance storage capacity, interconnections and diversity in renewables to ensure grid security
  • Make public transport free for under 25s to embed the habit
  • Begin planning for more LUAS lines in Dublin and other cities using funds from the above, the capital fund, PPP’s and the EIB
  • Set a cap on emissions from agriculture which would enable achievement of Paris commitment outcomes

Youth Services

Youth Services were cut at nearly 6 times the rate of public expenditure during the recession. We find this unacceptable. Such cuts now need to be reversed as the youth sector have contributed way more to recent adjustments than other areas of public expenditure without any policy basis. There is now a much firmer base of oversight, management and governance of these projects. Increased funding for youth services in last year's budget are welcome and the trend needs to continue to undo the damage of the past. Youth Services in Ireland are co-financed by the National Lottery, the contract between lottery players and good causes must remain. If the exchequer is cutting matching funds by greater amounts, then such a contract is threatened.

Over eight years to 2014, youth work funding from DCYA was cut to €49.8m or a decrease of 31.8%. While there has been an increase in funding since 2014, notably in 2017, overall funding for youth work stands at €60.4m in 2019, still €12.7m (17.4%) below 2008 levels, not taking inflation into account.
 

Table 1

Year 2008 2014 2019
DCYA Funding for Youth Work €73.1m €49.8m €60.4m
% Decrease   -31.8% -17.4%

NYCI Submission to DCYA

  • We echo the call of the National Youth Council of Ireland to increase funding to youth work by €16m in 2020 to brig the sector back to pre-recession levels.

Mental and Physical Health

The mental and physical health challenges that children and young people face are immense. We have a major problem with obesity illustrated in the Growing up in Ireland Survey. Our Substance Misuse Strategy still needs major support and action. The vision for change document has been poorly resources for years and more support is needed for child and adolescent mental health teams.

We repeat our calls in previous submissions here;

  • Implement the National Substance Misuse Strategy (€14m)
  • Deliver on the various guidelines on diet and exercise for young people through schools and voluntary youth services for example those recommended by Safe Food Ireland (€2m)
  • Halve CAMHs waiting lists (€10m)
  • Establish a fund for community-based sports and leisure activity for young people (€8m)
  • Use extra Excise duty from minimum pricing to fund the above and other measures in this submission and other expert reports (+€60m)

Education and Training

Whether in Boom or Bust Ireland has a deep-seated problem relating to educational disadvantage. Early school leaving remains an issue in many disadvantaged areas. The performance of children on key indicators under the PISA system is significantly less in DEIS schools despite some improvement. Non-attendance measured by Tusla (formerly the NEWB) is still high. We are still a way off the generally accepted school completion rates to senior cycle. Curriculum reform at the senior level needs to be a greater priority. Data in this area and the related area of vocational education and training is weak since the ESRIs School Leavers Survey was effectively defunded. We are also now facing into a review of our senior cycles

  • Deliver on the Junior Cycle Student Award (no cost)
  • Introduce similar reform for the Leaving Certificate (no cost)
  • Reintroduce the Early School Leavers Survey (€0.5m)
  • Increase support for literacy and numeracy work in schools and voluntary youth services (€5m)
  • Increase support for voluntary youth services who work with early school leavers and the hardest to reach young people, support certified learning in these informal settings (€8m)

Incomes Measures

There are several measures which could on a discrete basis fund the changes we wish to see here on health, education and youth services. The most obvious related changes would be to excise duty and online gambling taxes consistent with Government policy an expert opinion in these areas.  With an increased emphasis on climate in budgetary thinking we may also be looking at reductions of income and ringfencing of income sources in the future too in budgetary work. We have set out the self-funding of the environmental and housing measures.