Guest blog: Renua will chart a route out of poverty for our lost and distressed citizens, by Lucinda Creighton

EAPN Ireland Election Blog No. 5

We asked all of the party leaders to present their view on the issues which they will take up in Government or Opposition over the next ten years to fight poverty in Ireland.

This is the first of the series , from Lucinda Creighton, leader of the new party Renua Ireland.  Renua’s policies can be read here and their manifesto, Rewarding Work, Rebuilding Trust, here

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RENUA WILL CHART A ROUTE OUT OF POVERTY FOR OUR LOST AND DISTRESSED CITIZENS

BY LUCINDA CREIGHTON, Renua Ireland 

RENUA Ireland believes poverty particularly of a sustained nature is a drag on human potential. Lucinda

We are determined to as a party lead a systemic attack on poverty and the causes of poverty.

We, of course believe job creation and the opportunity to work is the surest route out of poverty.

That, by the way is what poor citizens want.

RENUA Ireland also believes that tax reform, structured to make it attractive for people on the minimum wage and the average wage to secure further work opportunities will play a key role in reducing instances of poverty.

A fundamental RENUA value however is that we need to build a strategic response to poverty.

Like building ‘The Great Society’ in America in the 1960’s we need a cross-Government strategy to tie polices together into a single framework.

Our strategy will prioritize areas in education where further investment is urgently required and in developing a housing strategy for working people who cannot access homes.

One key element of our strategy is to guarantee citizens a minimum lifestyle and to measure how effectively government is building an equal society.

We propose to do this via a radical new way of measuring social progress.

RENUA Ireland maintains that the central objective of Government is to raise the quality of life for all citizens in a society fit for all, not few. 

Other parties have spoken vaguely of ‘social targets’ but we will implement a clear and transparent mechanism to review our targets. 

We intend to introduce a method of measuring social progress annually, instead of simply focusing on GDP growth rates. 

Economic expansion is worthless if it is not felt at the grassroots level. RENUA Ireland believes that Ireland needs a Social Progress Indicator (SPI), an annual publication that can be clearly understood and will become the bellwether in measuring how Ireland is advancing each year. 

This will be a singular SPI that everyone understands, one constructed independently across a range of sub-indices.  It will be available on merrionstreet.ie for every citizen in the State to see. 

Social progress will be measured by areas as diverse as literacy, life expectancy by area, average incomes and crime.

This method of measurement is designed to ensure that no-one is left behind and has more than fifty international and national indices.

We are also anxious to establish a more human face in social policy.

In that regard we wish to establish an Assisted Families Unit, similar to Britain’s Troubled Family Unit.

The unit would have a specific budget and would initially operate on a pilot scheme working with a designated number of families.

It would involve the allocation of a dedicated family worker to identified families. This family worker would liaise with the relevant state agencies on behalf of the family and operate on the concept of an expanded public health nurse system. Intervention would be proactive rather than reactive.

On an equally practical level it should be noted RENUA Ireland was the first political party to put money-lending on the policy table.

Some 18% of our population have no access to mainstream banking services despite the fact that the introduction of basic banking products by the pillar banks was a requirement of the bailout.

RENUA Ireland insists that this must happen.

RENUA Ireland believes that basic banking loans can be provided affordably by providing for a modest deduction at source from social welfare income that is paid into designated basic bank accounts (current accounts with debit cards).

As the direct debit is guaranteed, such facilities can be provided very cheaply with a cost of credit between 6 and 9%.

It is in my view a simple example of how imaginative small pragmatic actions can transform people’s lives. 

We will have a lot more to come.

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