Friday, September 13, 2013

Oxfam Report on Austerity, Poverty, Inequality

Hard Talk from Oxfam

Oxfam have issued a report on austerity in Ireland which states that the country will most probably experience a rise in inequality, poverty, and emigration.

The report stated that the austerity programmes; “bear a striking resemblance to the ruinous structural adjustment policies imposed on Latin America, South-East Asia, and sub-Sahara Africa in the 1980s and 1990s”.

It states in a dire warning that “left unchecked, these measures will undermine Europe’s social gains, creating divided countries and a divided continent, and entrenching poverty for a generation”.

Some Stated Statistics

  • The report states that in 2011 there were some 120 million people in the EU were in the poverty trap and the figure could rise by a further 25 million.
  • Women will be the hardest hit by austerity.
  • The report projects an erosion of Trades Unions, collective bargaining, and workplace rights. This will further add to the already established trend in poverty among working people.
  • Cuts to public services will result in people losing their jobs,
  • At the same time voluntary institutions that support people in times of hardship will be weakened or even shut down through declining funding.
  • It could take between 10 – 25 years for poverty to return to pre-2008 levels.

Some alternative strategies suggested by Oxfam;

  • Invest in people and economic growth.
  • Invest in public services.
  • Strengthen institutional democracy.
  • Tax fairly

The Oxfam report also suggested:

  • That the EU needs to tackle unsustainable European public debt
  • Address major flaws in the EU financial system
  • That citizens of Europe ... need to increase their political engagement in order to influence government policy.
  • We need to change course to avoid a lost European decade.

Regarding Ireland

Oxfam’s report on Ireland says that although the programme for recovery is ahead of target, the austerity measures “have had a devastating impact on people already struggling with rising unemployment and levels of indebtedness”.

The report said that the poorest are hit hardest by the recession, with a “shocking array of welfare cuts and tax increases” being introduced since 2008 “that have driven more and more people into debt and poverty”.


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