Welfare and Employment
There have been profound societal changes since the establishment of the social welfare system in Ireland, and changes to the social welfare system, by and large, reflect these changes. This project considers anticipated future changes and discusses possibilities for the future direction of the Irish social welfare system. The project makes reference to previous work on the Developmental Welfare State (2005) and Moving from Welfare to Work: Low work intensity households and the quality of supportive services (2018), with a focus on people of working age. Specifically, the project has considered:
- Social insurance and the changing nature of work – background papers advocate for retention of the social insurance system but ask questions in relation to the balance between contributions paid in to the social insurance system and the benefits received. Reference is made to recent changes in policy and practice, along with the role of social dialogue and collective representation.
- Gender, class and family – analysis assesses how family forms are changing, the implications for greater female participation in the labour force, and ongoing challenges of balancing work and family commitments for the social welfare system.
- A more integrated welfare system – background papers look at social insurance and social assistance trends and review if, and how, the social welfare system could become more integrated. Also relevant to this discussion is the broader context of universal payments, tax credits and the role of services.
- Income, wealth and redistribution – the project considers why market income inequality is so high in Ireland and discusses a review of tax expenditures and giving greater attention to capital taxes. The importance of education and skills acquisition in addressing inequality is emphasised.
The draft working papers and proposals have been considered by a Working Group whose terms of reference are: (a) to consider the main messages from the draft working papers discussed by the Council to date; and (b) to put forward proposals for the future of the social welfare system, and for social insurance, in particular.
The final report, The Future of the Irish Social Welfare System: Participation and Protection, has been discussed by the NESC Council, with an epilogue on the implications of recent changes to the social welfare system due to Covid-19.
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