The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to social security, including social insurance.
State Report paragraphs 168-216
The Department of Social Protection’s budget has more than doubled in the last ten years and in 2014, it was allocated €19.6 billion. While this represents 39 per cent of projected overall government expenditure,1 it was a drop of three per cent from the departmental budget in 2013.2 Further reductions are expected in 2015 and 2016.3 Changes in overall expenditure since 2008 take account of the transfer of other schemes to the Department as well as the changing demographics of the population.
In 2013, almost 1.5 million people received a social welfare payment benefitting almost 2.3 million people in total.4 This figure also includes recipients of Child Benefit but the level of those who receive only this payment and no other payment cannot be extracted from the overall statistics. The State Report acknowledges the high level of unemployment experienced from 2007 onwards, resulting in a higher number of people becoming reliant on the social welfare system;5 in fact, the number of recipients in 2013 represented a 57 per cent increase on the 2003 figure.6
The social protection system plays a vital role in ensuring that people are supported by the State where necessary and appropriate. In 2013, government sources stated that social transfers reduced the ‘at-risk-of-poverty rate from 55 per cent to 16 per cent in 2011’7 yet despite this important safety-net, the at-risk-of poverty figure rose from 14.4 per cent in 20088 to 16.5 per cent in 2012.9
In relation to contributory payments for the unemployed, from 2013 the duration of Jobseeker’s Benefit was reduced from 12 to 9 months for recipients with 260 or more contributions since entering insurable employment while it was reduced from 9 to 6 months for those with less than 260 contributions.10 This was done as a cost-saving measure despite the growth of long-term unemployment; almost 60 per cent of all unemployed people have been out-of-work for a year or more.11
FLAC urges the Committee to recommend that the State:
Undertake a human rights and equality impact assessment on all proposed budgetary measures, make these assessments publicly available and ensure they are discussed by the Oireachtas.
1 Department of Public Expenditure (2013) Revised Estimates for Public Services, Dublin: Stationery Office, p.9.
2 Department of Social Protection (2014) Annual Report 2013, Dublin: Government of Ireland, p.6. This represents a 3.2 per cent compared to the €20.23 billion spent in 2013.
3 Government of Ireland (2013) 2014 Expenditure Report, Dublin: Stationery Office.
4 In 2013, 611,366 recipients received a monthly Child Benefit payment, paid in respect of 1,168,582 children but as the data does not indicate how many of these were also in receipt of another social welfare payment, these figures cannot be deducted from the total number of recipients and beneficiaries.
5 UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (2013) Third periodic reports of States parties due in 2007: Ireland, Geneva: OHCHR.
6 Department of Social Protection (2014) Annual Report 2013, Dublin: DSP,
7 Department of Social Protection (2014) Social impact assessment of the main welfare and tax measures for 2014, Dublin: DSP, p.2.
8 Central Statistics Office (2009) Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) 2008, Dublin: Stationery Office, p.6.
9 Central Statistics Office (2014) Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) 2012, Cork: CSO, p.1.
10 Department of Social Protection (2013) Budget Factsheet 2013, Dublin: Department of Social Protection.
11 Central Statistics Office (2014) Quarterly National Household Survey: Quarter 2 2014, Cork: CSO.