The INOU is one of a range of Community and Voluntary Sector organisations and Trade Unions that have come together to campaign against the proposed cuts to basic social welfare payments and the national minimum wage. The campaign is called 'The Poor Can't Pay'.
The central message of 'The Poor Can't Pay' campaign is that people earning the national minimum wage or living on social welfare did not cause Ireland's economic crisis and therefore should not be forced to pay for the cost of the recession. This message is very much in keeping with a motion past at the INOU's Annual Delegate Conference in May which called "on the Government to ensure that, at the very minimum the value of all social welfare rates are maintained at the March 2009 rates. It is important that no further reductions or stealth cutbacks are made and we call on the Government to rescind the rent supplement changes, restore the Christmas Bonus..."
The campaign was launched as a joint initiative by the following community and voluntary sector organisations and trade unions: Age Action, Barnardos, CORI, EAPN, Focus Ireland, INOU, Mandate, National Women's Council of Ireland, SIPTU and SVP.
On September 7th 2009 The Poor Can't Pay campaign held an "alternative Cabinet meeting" to launch an internet campaign asking people to log on to www.thepoorcantpay.ie to e-mail their local TD's urging them to do all in their power to protect the most vulnerable from Budget cuts. A representative of each organisation took a seat around the "cabinet" table on Molesworth St. - in the shadow of Dail Eireann - to appeal to the Government to consider the harsh impact cuts will have on thousands of families and single people living on welfare or struggling on low incomes.
In the lead up to Budget 2010 the Poor Can't Pay Campaign launched a viral video showing messages from a number of the campaign's constiuent organisations.
On Monday 11th January 2010, The Poor Can't Pay called on the Taoiseach to give an immediate assurance that there would be no more cuts in social welfare payments and no cut in the minimum wage. The call came as the campaign coalition launched a detailed analysis titled 'How the Poor Were Made to Pay', which outlines how the 2010 Budget will hit people living in poverty. The report found that the Budget, announced in December 2009, will have the greatest impact on households already at risk of or living in poverty. The cuts will be worst for children, lone parents, unemployed people, those entering the labour market for the first time and people with disabilities. Spokesperson for 'The Poor Can't Pay', Dr. Mary Murphy said: '€1 in every €5 that the Government cut came from the pockets of the poor. This contradicts the Government's stated commitment to "protect the most vulnerable". To download a copy fo the full report please click on the image of the cover to the left.
The Poor Can't Pay Campaign then launched its Statement for 2010 which sets out the campaign's analysis and objectives for the year. The launch of the statement followed on from widespread consultation within the member organisations and debate on what role the campaign would have in resisting pressure for further cuts in welfare and minimum wages.
With the launch of the second phase of this campaign on June 28th 2010, we saw the start of the campaign's "Make A Commitement" drive, in which we turned our attention to TDs and Senators asking them to make a personal commitment to do all in their power to ensure that there are no further cuts in social welfare or the minimum wage. For some time now members of the general public have been making this same commitment in numbers. This second phase of the campaign is now asking each of them - and every other person in the country concerned with fairness and equality to ask their elected representatives to stand up and be counted.
The campaign ramped up another gear on the 18th of October 2010 when two videos were launched which starkly brought home the message of exactly what people on social welfare and the lowest incomes are now facing as a result of cuts already imposed. The message to Government and opposition was clear, any further cuts to those on social welfare and the lowest incomes would create innumerable hardship and possibly even cost lives. These videos were publicised through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter while also being featured on the websites of many of the campaign's member organisations.
A few weeks after the launch of these videos, the campaign uploaded another video to Youtube. This time the video was a report from the launch day of the previous videos, featuring interviews with several members of the campaign and further highlighting the issues the campaing continues to rally against in the lead up to budget 2011.
To see which elected representatives have signed up to the campaign and to easily send an email to all the TDs and Senators in your constituency please join us in taking action (by clicking here). As strength is in numbers we hope you will join us in this campaign and follow this campaign as it develops at www.thepoorcantpay.ie