Have your say on the new National Action Plan for Social Inclusion

The government is putting together a new strategy to reduce poverty and promote social inclusion. 
The consultation on the new National Action Plan for Social Inclusion 2018 to 2021 has been released by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection with a closing date of 16th March 2018. 
The previous National Action Plan for Social Inclusion aimed to reduce consistent poverty to 4% by 2016 and to 2% or less by 2020. The government has failed to reach these targets. 
Among the general population, 8% of people experienced consistent poverty in 2016. More than a quarter of people with disabilities (26%) were experiencing consistent poverty in 2016. 
The consultation asks people if the targets are too ambitious. It is the view of Inclusion Ireland that the target should not be watered down and that increased efforts need to be made to ensure that actions to address poverty are working for people with disabilities. 
Inclusion Ireland would encourage people with intellectual disabilities to have their say and complete the consultation online here
Inclusion Ireland has completed the survey and you can see the main points from our submission below. 
Active Inclusion
Inclusion Ireland believes The National Action Plan’s definition of Active Inclusion is a narrow one.
While taking an active inclusion approach can be helpful in addressing poverty and social exclusion, active inclusion is not just about employment and should not be confused with ‘activation’. 
All three pillars are equally important and should be addressed in an integrated way. These pillars are:
  • Adequate minimum income
  • Inclusive labour markets
  • Access to quality services
Active inclusion approaches focus on addressing poverty and social exclusion among working age people. The revised plan should also set out how poverty among children and older people should be addressed. 
Whole of government approach
Addressing poverty and social exclusion among people with disabilities does not easily fit into the role of one organisation or government department. Working in a ‘whole of government’ way is necessary to achieve the positive outcomes desired. 
This requires:
  • Strong leadership at political and administrative level
  • Joined-up government structures
  • A culture of collaboration and incentives to collaborate
  • Cultural change and willingness to work across boundaries and in different ways
  • Developing systems for monitoring and evaluating implementation and outcomes 
Poverty proofing
Effective equality budgeting should involve a wide range of stakeholders and not just government departments. The public should be involved in helping to set priorities and targets for equality budgeting and in monitoring and evaluating their success. 
What is social inclusion for people with disabilities in practical terms?
People with disabilities are at greater risk of experiencing poverty than the general population. They experience greater deprivation and are more likely to live in consistent poverty than non-disabled people. 
People with disabilities are less likely to have a job.
People with disabilities are less likely to marry or have a family. 
They are more likely to experience loneliness and isolation, and to live in places that are segregated from mainstream community life. 
Top 3 outcomes for people with disabilities by 2021
If the new National Action Plan is to be effective, it needs to address the unacceptable level of poverty and social exclusion experienced by people with disabilities. 
The Plan should aim to achieve the following outcomes for people with disabilities:
1. Cost of disability is addressed
Addressing cost of disability is an equality issue - people with disabilities have lower incomes than the population as a whole and have to spend more of their income to achieve the same standard of living as everyone else.
2. People will disabilities are living included lives in the community 
The implementation of an active inclusion approach which gives equal weight to providing accessible and quality services, would support people with disabilities to live included lives in their communities, with the services and supports required to ensure a life of dignity. 
3. Budgetary and policy decisions are equality proofed
Equality budgeting would advance equality, support social inclusion, reduce poverty and strengthen economic and social rights. Equality proofing would help to ensure that steps taken to reduce poverty benefit those whose who are most at risk. 
Have your say and complete the consultation online here