Thought on CORI's positions

CORI and their policies

I've just been reading the CORI website and I have to say I find most of what they write very well intentioned, if perhaps lacking in foresight and originality.

I've in particular noticed that CORI are fixated on preserving and developing services which have already proved to be catastrophic and expensive failures, rather than suggesting totally new ideas. To give an example CORI are critical of the winding down of the CES schemes, despite the fact that the failure rate is enormous: 4 out of every 5 participants do not find meaningful work upon the completion of the course. Likewise Rent Supplement - the entire rent supplement system is fundamentally flawed as it is a non statutory benefit - outrageous in this age of non-supply of social housing. Another good example is that CORI suggest widening the tax band - but widening to whom? One of the most catastrophic side effects of tax reform in the UK is that while taxes as a whole have reduced, the tax burden has shifted entirely onto the poorest workers - in the 1950s only 20% of poor workers pay tax, now 50% pay it, despite an enormous drop in real wages from 1971 to 2003.

I've been reading their proposals on income tax and have to say that land rent and eco taxes are not going to happen in corporate happy Ireland. I would recommend that the only equitable way to raise more tax while simultaneously benefiting lower income earners is to reintroduce the 3 band taxation saystem. We could restore the 10% tax rate for low earners, maintain the middle rate at 20% but introduce a new 35% rate for earners say over the PRSI exemption limit of €42k. This would mean that the main beneficaries would be low paid workers, whilst higher paid workers would initially be partially compensated by some of their income being at an ultra low 10% rate. It would also ensure that the state did not lose valuable taxation income.

While there is a recognition that the CE scheme provided a "major role in providing services in local communities, delivered mostly by organisations in the community and voluntary sectors", there is no questioning of the value of using taxpayers money to provide "free" employees to voluntary organisations. Also the role of providing "sheltered" employment should not be the role of the largest state scheme. (While there is a serious need for ongoing sheltered employment, this should be managed and funded from a dedicated function). It remains that from the point of view of an assessment of its main function - that of providing valuable training opportunities and work experience - that the CES scheme has been a failure in its primary objective. Therefore taxpayers money should be put to better use.

I would argue however, that taxpayers money needs to be spent on similar schemes that learn from the mistakes of CES. The biggest problem seems to have actually been the overall hijacking of the scheme by "voluntary" organisations. In reality some of these were schools where CES participants were used as free labour alongside generously paid department of Education staff (I saw this extensive abuse whilst teaching in affluent Dublin 6 schools in the late 1990s).

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