You can’t argue the statistics or explain them away. Nobody is jumping up and down to say they shouldn’t be on welfare, we can only take comparative looks and look at our own system to determine why things are the way they are.
- Why does Ireland have a far higher rate of persons claiming disability than other OECD countries based on our youthful demographics? Why did Ireland go from having 500 persons a year go on disability a year between 2002-2006 to 7500 from the year after?
- Why were we top of the table for single parent household payments just a decade after introducing divorce and are still there despite having high marriage rates and divorce?
- Why does the Irish state take a higher rate of what is considered “full employment” versus other countries?
- Why do we have such a high rate of VLWI households, particularly why is it that? Why is our labour market participation rate of working persons 5% below the EU average. Youthful demographics, with many in further education might be one reason, but that doesn’t exactly square to our disability rate does it?
Of particular concern is thelevel of persistent joblessness; 18.8 percent of VLWI household members over 25 years of
age that are currently not working, have never worked.
Disability payments went up by 75% in just 10 years after 2005. We spend over 3.5 billion a year on this. That is a lot of money annually.
The conclusion to the Redmond paper I linked earlier says this;
Targeting VLWI households is a key component of the European Union 2020 strategy as VLWI drives up the risk of social exclusion and material deprivation. In this paper I have shown in detail how VLWI households and their members differ from non-VLWI household members, both in characteristics such as education, disability benefit receipt and single parent households, as well as the incidence of poverty and social exclusion. While some of the observations in Ireland are common throughout Europe, there are some notable differences. For example, the incidence of VLWI households that are single parent households is particularly high in Ireland by EU standards. Regarding self-defined economic status, Ireland also has a strikingly high number of VLWI household members that categorize themselves as being engaged in domestic and care duties.
I can give you my opinion, and this is shared by many including the Troika which had persons from nordic countries which the left love to go on about involved. It is because we have an open ended welfare system that is too easy to game. There is no cliff edge for welfare. It is just there. Other countries use a tiering off, we don’t. As I said earlier, I wouldn’t have a problem with paying the recently unemployed more money- it is the long term which is the issue.
One thing I would applaud Joan Burton on, and this is despite our still ridiculously high number of youths out of the labour force “disabled”, is the drop in our youth unemployment. Good education options combined with a lowering of welfare helps here.