Dáil Éireann - Volume 525 - 09 November, 2000

Written Answers. - Anti-Poverty Strategy.

48. Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs the steps that are being taken in his Department to ensure that each Department is kept up to date with its commitments under the national anti-poverty strategy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24934/00]

Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern): This Government has pledged itself to achieving a society based on social inclusion and to the elimination of poverty. While each Department retains the lead role in progressing policies under its own area, constant co-ordination of cross-departmental activity, with consultative mechanisms involving other agencies, where appropriate, is an important element of the national anti-poverty strategy which seeks to focus anti-poverty policy on those most in need, as efficiently and effectively as possible. Towards this end, administrative structures have been put in place, including: the Cabinet sub-committee on social inclusion and drugs, including local development, chaired by the Taoiseach, [1266] which now meets on a regular monthly basis. The Cabinet sub-committee ensures that strategic priorities are being pursued in relation to poverty and exclusion and provides strong political leadership to advance the goals of the strategy; the senior officials social inclusion group which supports the work of the Cabinet sub-committee; the national anti-poverty strategy interdepartmental policy committee, which discusses future plans and the progress of current activity, is comprised of senior officers who have responsibility for ensuring that the national anti-poverty strategy provisions relevant to their Departments are implemented and representatives of other relevant agencies, such as the Combat Poverty Agency; the national anti-poverty strategy unit based in my Department which co-ordinates and develops cross-departmental action in support of social inclusion; and the national anti-poverty strategy liaison officers in relevant Departments fulfil a communication and co-ordination role, particularly in relation to poverty proofing.

In addition to these administrative structures, Departments are required to produce annual workplans which identify specific anti-poverty initiatives with appropriate target dates. Progress by each Department is recorded in the annual report of the national anti-poverty strategy interdepartmental policy committee.

The poverty proofing process also ensures that Departments are kept aware of the possible implications of policy on those most in need. Departments have put in place the necessary

arrangements to ensure that all staff working on the preparation of proposals for Government Memoranda, legislation etc. are aware that such key policy initiatives are required to be poverty proofed.

Question No. 49 taken with Question No. 41.