I propose to take Questions Nos. 98 and 100 together.
The most recent data on the levels of consistent poverty is contained in a report published recently by the Economic and Social Research Institute, entitled Monitoring Poverty Trends in Ireland: Results from the 2001 Living in Ireland Survey. The report shows that the steady downward trend in consistent poverty has been sustained with a rate of 5.2% being recorded in 2001 compared to 15% in 1994. Accordingly, we are continuing to make steady progress towards the achievement of the target set out in the revised national anti-poverty strategy, NAPS, of reducing the level of consistent poverty to below 2% by 2007 and, ideally, eliminating it altogether.
The 2001 Living in Ireland survey was the final such survey undertaken as part of the European Community household panel or ECHP. This statistical instrument is now being replaced with a new instrument, which is known as EU-SILC — the European survey of income and living conditions. The Central Statistics Office is responsible for EU-SILC, as it has a statutory basis in EU statistical law. The earlier ECHP had no formal legal basis. I understand that the Central Statistics Office expects to be in a position to publish the initial results from the 2003 survey by the end of this year, and that the latest information on consistent poverty will be included in these initial results.
The office for social inclusion within my Department has overall responsibility for monitoring progress towards the implementation of the targets set out in NAPS and in the national action plans against poverty and social exclusion. The current NAPS/inclusion covers the period from 2003 to 2005 and was submitted to the EU Commission on 31 July 2003. The plan provides for the following: an assessment of the major trends and challenges in the area of social inclusion; reviews the progress achieved in the previous two-year period; sets out the strategic approach to meeting the challenges; identifies the key targets and the measures in place to achieve those targets; sets out the institutional framework in place to address the issues of poverty and social exclusion; and identifies a number of examples of best practice.
The plan, together with similar plans submitted by the other member states, also provides the basis for a joint inclusion report which will be discussed at the forthcoming spring European Council. The joint inclusion report includes a synthesis report on the challenges facing all member states in tackling poverty and social exclusion, as well as a critique of the individual plans of each member state.
In order to provide continuity in the process, it is planned to publish the first annual report of the office for social inclusion in autumn 2004, covering the year to end July 2004. It is envisaged that this report will provide an analysis of progress towards the achievement of the targets set out in the NAPS and NAPS/inclusion. It will also provide an update on the range of other activities being undertaken by the office.