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Social Policy Assignment 2

Policy relating to social care clients is developed in consideration of National


Agreements. Discuss the development of National Agreements, specifically the role
of the 4th Pillar.

Social care is a profession committed to the planning and delivery of quality care and
other support services for individuals and groups with identified needs, it is no wonder
then that national agreements are developed to help these disadvantaged or excluded
minority back into society. In Ireland, for people who don’t have a job or who cannot
work, the State normally provides a weekly Social Welfare payment, with extra benefits
and allowances for children. It also aims to ensure that all residents have access to
essential services such as education, health, care, housing, transport, culture and sports.
The National Action Plan for Social Inclusion (NAPinclusion) sets out a comprehensive
strategy to tackle poverty and promote social inclusion across a wide range of policy
areas. The strategic approach to tackling poverty and social exclusion over the past 10
years has included identifying the groups and areas which are vulnerable to poverty.
Social inclusion is firmly on the public policy agenda. The Government’s commitments
to building a fully inclusive society are set out in the following strategies, The national
partnership agreement Towards 2016, The National Development Plan 2007 – 2013,
Transforming Ireland. A Better Quality of Life for All and The National Action Plan for
Social Inclusion 2007 – 2016 Building an Inclusive Society

Throughout much of the 1980s Ireland experienced severe economic recession which was
characterised by spiralling unemployment, mass emigration and a huge national debt. In
the mid 1980s a consensus emerged that the scale of the crisis was so bad that a new way
of regulating relationships between the then Social Partners - Government, Employers
and Trade Unions was required if Ireland was to overcome its economic problems. The
first Social Partnership Agreement - the Programme for National Recovery focused
primarily on wage moderation in return for lower levels of income tax, policies to
stimulate employment and enhanced social protections. This 'Pact' was the first in a series
of Social Partnership Agreements.
And so this situation of despair and crisis in Ireland brought about a model of economic
and social governance based on social partnership. This involves the National, Economic
and Social Council (NESC), where social partners within it such as the Government,
academics, civil servents, trade unions, employers, farming organizations and the
community created strategies for economic and social policy in Ireland. As well as this,
the NESC includes voluntary organizations such The Irish Congress of Trade Unions
(ICTU), Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), Macra na Feirme, Irish National Organisation
of the Unemployed (INOU), CORI Justice Commission, National Youth Council of
Ireland (NYCI), Irish Council for Social Housing (ICSH), Society of Saint Vincent de
Paul, Age Action Ireland, The Carers Association, The Wheelchair Association, The
Disability Federation of Ireland, Irish Rural Link, The Irish Senior Citizens, The
Children’s Rights Alliance, Protestant Aid and many more. The negotiations in which
they have developed were created on a 10 year framework to be delivered Towards 2016
called the Framework Social Partnership Agreement, 2006-2015. More recently, since
1993 the National Economic and Social Forum (NESF) was created so that Irish social
partners now include both Catholic and Protestant church interests and voluntary and
community organisations. When the social partnership was first initiated in May 1987,
the reports main concern was Irelands entry into the EEC, now called the EU (European
Union), as social policy had to be altered to fit European standards. Over the years, the
development of social policy at national and local levels saw great change through social
partnership.

Social partnership refers to an approach to governance and policy making whereby


government-selected social partners work together to decide on the future of public
policy in their area of involvement. The social partners are divided into four broad
groupings or 'pillars': 1) Employers, 2) Trade Unions 3) Farmers and 4) community and
voluntary organisations. These organisations represent national partnership mechanisms
for example the fourth pillar, ‘the community and voluntary organisation’ consists of
sectors such as the Irish national organisation of the unemployed (INOU), The National
Womens council of Ireland (NWCI), National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI),
committee of Religious Superiors (CORI), Centres for the unemployed (ICTU), St
Vincent de Paul, Protestant Aid and Community Platform. These organizations work on
a basis to develop or improve national agreements which would make life easier and
better lived for people in society. The reason for community development was because
since the 1970’s community development has re-emerged in Ireland and has been used to
describe the activist driven response to urban planning, rural development,
unemployment and meeting social needs particularly those of children and young people.
This fourth pillar has contributed to many social care professions, woman’s
organizations, community development and basic human living for example the Irish
Council for Social Housing (ICSH) has been a member of the Community and Voluntary
Pillar of social partnership since 2003. The ICSH identified key areas of concern within
the housing sector in Ireland that were not being addressed within the partnership
framework. The rapid changes taking place in housing in Ireland, specifically around
issues of affordability and supply, at this time hastened the need for social housing to be
addressed more comprehensively. During the social partnership talks in 2006, the ICSH
called for the issue of housing to be addressed and so the key challenges around housing
included the continued high demand for social housing due to a lack of affordability for
private housing, the fall in the provision of state land for social housing, the reduction in
the national social housing stock, the persistence of homelessness nationally despite an
increase in services and accommodation for the homeless and the imminent rise in
demand for elderly sheltered housing due to an ageing population and the continued need
for housing for people with disabilities and so the national agreements were altered to
mention and provide housing for the disadvantaged in Ireland. These agreements cover
issues like these, such as affordable housing and so on which will be covered in more
detail later in this essay.

The overall goal for this new ten-year framework agreement covering the period 2006 –
2016 is to realise the NESC vision for Irish society by Nurturing the complementary
relationship between social policy and economic prosperity, by developing a vibrant,
knowledge-based economy and stimulating enterprise and productivity, by re-inventing
and repositioning Ireland’s social policies, by Integrating an island-of-Ireland economy,
and by deepening capabilities, achieving higher social and economic participation rates
and more successfully handling diversity, including immigration. The agreement is
based on a ten year timeframe, in addition to this the agreement also adopts a new social
policy perspective which is built around the life cycle approach. The life cycle approach
means that the citizen of society is at the centre ot the new social policy approach. The
key lifecycle phases include children, people of working age, older people and people
with disabilities. At each stage of the life cycle it is recognised that there are key
services, income supports and activation measures required to meet the needs of people.

Key areas to be addressed in relation to children include early childhood development


and care, improving education outcomes, improving health outcomes, promoting
recreation, sports, arts and culture, income support, and children and their families.
According to the HSE, the remit is that every child should grow up in a family with
access to sufficient resources, supports and services, to nurture and care for the child, and
foster the child’s development. That every family should be able to access childcare
services which are appropriate to the circumstances and needs of their children. That
Every child should leave primary school literate and numerate. That every student should
complete a senior cycle or equivalent programme, (including ICT) appropriate to their
capacity and interests. That every child should have access to world-class health,
personal social services and suitable accommodation. That every child should have
access to quality play, sport, recreation and cultural activities to enrich their experience of
childhood, and that all children and young people should have access to appropriate
participation in local and national decision-making.

Key areas to be addresses in relation to people of working age include access to


employment and income, improving health outcomes, caring responsibilities, and
housing. The parties to this agreement share a vision of an Ireland where all people of
working age have sufficient income and opportunity to participate as fully as possible in
economic and social life and where all individuals and their families are supported by a
range of quality public services to enhance their quality of life and well-being.
To achieve this vision, the Government and social partners will work together over the
next ten years towards the following long-term goals for people of working age in Ireland
to achieve that every person of working age should be encouraged and supported to
participate fully in social, civic and economic life, so that they have access to lifelong
learning, a sense of personal security in a changing work environment and an opportunity
to balance work and family commitments consistent with business needs, so the working
age will have an income level to sustain an acceptable standard of living and to enable
them to provide for an adequate income in retirement. As well as providing that every
person of working age on welfare will have access to supports towards progression and
inclusion, access to quality work and learning opportunities, encouraging a greater degree
of self-reliance and self-sufficiency and that every person, irrespective of background or
gender, would enjoy equality of opportunity and freedom from discrimination;
And that every family would have access to health and social care, affordable
accommodation appropriate to their needs and a well functioning public transport system,
and every person with caring responsibilities would have access to appropriate supports
to enable them to meet these responsibilities alongside employment and other
commitments.

Priority areas identified for older people include pensions/income supports, long-term
care services, housing and accommodation, ensuring mobility, ensuring quality health
services, and promoting education and employment opportunities. The aim of this
agreement is to enable older people to maintain their health and well-being, as well as to
live active and full lives, in an independent way in their own homes and communities for
as long as possible. To achieve this vision, the Government and social partners will work
together over the next ten years towards the following long-term goals for older people in
Ireland: To ensure that every older person would be encouraged and supported to
participate to the greatest extent possible in social and civic life, that they would have
access to an income which is sufficient to sustain an acceptable standard of living, that
every older person would have adequate support to enable them to remain living
independently in their own homes for as long as possible. This will involve access to
good quality services in the community, including: health, education, transport, housing
and security, and that every older person would, in conformity with their needs and
conscious of the high level of disability and disabling conditions amongst this group,
have access to a spectrum of care services stretching from support for self-care through
support for family and informal carers to formal care in the home, the community or in
residential settings. Such care services should ensure the person has opportunities for
civic and social engagement at community level.

In relation to people with disabilities, Government and the Social Partners have agreed
that the National Disability Strategy provides a comprehensive strategy for the lifecycle
approach and they have agreed that its implementation should be the focus of policy over
the lifetime of the Agreement. Although, this agreement states that every person with a
disability would have access to an income which is sufficient to sustain an acceptable
standard of living. That they would have access to appropriate care, health, education,
employment and training and social services, public spaces, buildings, transport,
information, advocacy and other public services and appropriate housing. And that every
person with a disability would be supported to enable them, as far as possible, to lead full
and independent lives, to participate in work and in society and to maximise their
potential, and their carers would be acknowledged and supported in their caring role.

Other Key issues highlighted include health and education services, income, measures to
promote employment opportunities, accessible housing and public transport services and
information and advocacy services. The Agreement includes a range of proposals
designed to support the role of the Community and Voluntary sector in responding to the
particular challenges associated with the implementation of the lifecycle approach. Over
the next few years, the government and social partners will work together to meet these
aims they have set, in order to stop exclusion and include all individuals equally into
society.