At the conclusion of the Autumn General Meeting of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, the following statement was issued in relation to Budget 2017:
“Ahead of next week’s debate on Budget 2017 by members of Oireachtas Éireann, bishops placed particular emphasis on the need for the budget to support families, in particular low income and single parent families and, in addition, the related issue of social housing and homelessness. In this regard bishops praised the pastoral work of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul and the focus of its pre-budget submission.
“In terms of families and specifically childcare, recent cuts to one parent family payment have reduced incomes of many lone parents in employment; and have made it more difficult for others to take up work, education or training.
“According to Focus Ireland, 6,525 people are at present homeless in the State, while over 1,000 families, including 2,177 children, are accessing emergency accommodation. Almost 90,000 households currently qualify for social housing. A further stark reality is facing thousands of families, including children, who are fighting court orders for the repossession of their family home due to mortgage arrears. Many of these mortgages are now held by investment companies with little sympathy for the plight of the families involved. In addition, the unprecedented rising cost of privately rented property is rapidly forcing many out of this sector, and this burgeoning problem needs to be addressed with families in mind.
“Bishops are asking legislators to prioritise the needs of low income families, and target resources towards social housing and the homeless in next week’s annual budgetary allocation of State resources.”