TASC at Labour Party Conference: Economic Inequality poses many challenges for Ireland
2nd March 2015
Speaking today at the Labour Equality workshop, Cormac Staunton, co-author of TASC’s new report Cherishing All Equally, reiterated the urgency for Ireland to recognise the many challenges posed by rising economic inequality, and the need for a range of solutions.
“Economic inequality is about more than just incomes or wealth” said Cormac Staunton, TASC's Policy Analyst. “In order to have a deeper understanding of the challenge of economic inequality we need to also look at the cost of living and the charges people often pay to access services like healthcare, childcare and transport. Conventional statistics on income inequality don’t capture the vital role of public services, nor how a rising cost of living erodes the adequacy of low incomes.”
The dangers posed by rising economic inequality have become a major focus in recent years, with organisations such as the IMF and the OECD increasingly concerned about the effects of rising economic inequality on growth. “We know that more equal societies do better on a whole range of social indicators like health and crime,” added Mr Staunton. “There is increasing evidence that more equal societies have stronger and more sustainable economic growth too.”
TASC welcomes the launch by the Government this week of the Low Pay Commission. “1 in 5 workers in Ireland is on low pay, one of the highest rates in western Europe” added Mr Staunton. “Decent jobs are an important tool to address rising economic inequality. Full-time work should provide someone with a Living Wage.”
“What matters at the end of the day is whether people can meet their needs, so we have to factor in Ireland’s cost of living. Paying for public services, which would be free or subsidised in other countries, like childcare or healthcare, puts a strain on people’s incomes. By taking a broader look at economic inequality we can understand the challenges facing the economy and society” concluded Mr Staunton.