Dáil Éireann - Volume 619 - 11 May, 2006
Written Answers. - Poverty Impact Assessments.
Mr. Gormley Mr. Gormley
Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when he expects the new guidelines on poverty impact assessment to be finalised; and the policy application which they are designed to have. [17545/06]
Mr. Brennan Mr. Brennan
Mr. Brennan: Poverty proofing was introduced in 1998 as a result of a commitment in the first National Anti-Poverty Strategy and is defined as “the process whereby Government policies and programmes are assessed at design and implementation stages in relation to their impact on poverty and on inequalities which are likely to lead to poverty, with a view to poverty reduction”. Since 1998 it has been a requirement for significant policy proposals to indicate clearly the impact of a proposal on persons in poverty or at risk of falling into poverty.
The original poverty proofing guidelines were produced in 1999 by my Department to assist all Government Departments in carrying out poverty proofing exercises. The guidelines were reviewed by the National Economic and Social Council (NESC) in 2001. The review, which took account of the experience of operating poverty proofing, made a series of recommendations across a range of areas, designed to strengthen the proofing process.
The Office for Social Inclusion, which is based in my Department, has now produced a revised set of guidelines for what is now termed Poverty Impact Assessment. This change of name is intended to underline the fact that the emphasis in the process should be on outcomes. It also aims to ensure that poverty impact assessment will be mainstreamed into the policy making process, and not be an ‘add on’ to the end of this process.
The revised guidelines are based on the earlier NESC recommendations and on the results of a process of consultation with users of the guidelines and with other relevant stakeholders which took place in 2005. They have been published on the website of the Office for Social Inclusion and are currently being presented to individual Government Departments. When this process is  complete the guidelines will be finalised and published in booklet form.
The new guidelines are designed to better assist policy makers across all levels of Government in evaluating policy proposals in terms of their potential impacts on poverty. The guidelines include a number of new steps to make the process more useful and transparent and a requirement to monitor the impacts of any policy change.
I am confident that the new guidelines will serve as an effective tool in ensuring that the fundamental priority of combating poverty and social exclusion is kept to the fore in policy making at all times by requiring a rigorous assessment of the impact of policies on those most vulnerable and in need.
Dáil Éireann 619 Written Answers. Poverty Impact Assessments.