Ten Points of Interest from the Children and Family Relationships Bill

The heads of the Children and Family Relationships Bill are likely to be published next month by Minister for Justice Alan Shatter.  The Children and Family Relationships Bill 2013 is intended to create a legal structure to underpin diverse parenting situations and provide legal clarity on parental rights and duties in diverse family forms. We have summarised ten points of interest from the Bill below:

  1. The Bill is a legal framework for family law issues such as guardianship, custody, access and the raising of children in the diverse family forms that are part of today’s society. These families may be made up of married families, co-habiting and civilly partnered couples as well as extended family members, such as grandparents, who may be caring for children.  It also reflects the recent provision made in the Children’s Referendum in 2012 for constitutional change
  2. There is a need for improved supports for the courts in matters of family law and childcare cases in order to ensure that orders, made in the best interests of children, are complied with.
  3. It is intended to increase the number of non-marital fathers who are automatically legal guardians by providing that a non-marital father is a guardian of his child if he has been co-habiting with the child’s mother for at least a year before the child’s birth, and in situations where the cohabitation ends less than 10 months before the birth (if the relationship ends)
  4. It is intended that others in a parenting role with the child may apply for guardianship, be they civil partners, step-parents, those living with the biological or adoptive parents as well as those acting in loco parentis for a time.  This is in instances where the child does not have more than two guardians.
  5. It is intended to establish that the best interests of the child is paramount in considering decisions on custody, access and guardianship.
  6. It is intended that provisions will be put in place to support parenting with penalties for parents who do not meet access or maintenance orders
  7. Guidance will be given to the court as to what constitutes the best interest of the child, including needs and views of the child, history of upbringing and care as well as having regard to any family/domestic violence and its impact on the safety of the child and other family members.
  8. Access will be simplified, removing the two stage process that currently exists for a person other than a parent seeking access to a child.
  9. Children aged over 12 must be consulted in relation to applications for guardianship, custody and access
  10. There are also proposals to look at making parent-related orders work, when a parent or guardian does not comply with court orders on custody or access to the child.

For further information on the Bill, take a look at the following link to the Department of Justice website:

The Children and Family Relationships Bill 2013

A Mother’s Story | Losing the One Parent Family Tax Credit

Dearbhla * wrote to One Family about the Budget 2014 announcement of the abolition of the One Parent Family Tax Credit.

Dearbhla (39) is a separated wife whose marriage broke down in 2005 after twelve years. She and her husband (49) agreed to separate on good terms and always put their son (now aged 13) first, and continue to do so. Dearbhla’s ex-husband has always voluntarily paid maintenance to support his son and they still have a mortgage on the family home.

In her own words:

“My ex-husband has a full time job and he works hard. I work part-time. I felt sick to the pit of my stomach when I listened to the budget and realised what the removal of the One Parent Family Tax Credit would do to us. My ex-husband is ill and is suffering from stress from work/financial pressure. He has said several times recently that he believes we would be better off financially if he was no longer here. His father died at sixty years of age due to a stroke, and the doctor has warned him he is heading the same way if he does not stop worrying and get his stress under control. I am genuinely concerned this will push him over the edge.

After maintenance he has to pay for rent, electricity, gas, food, etc. I have the mortgage, electricity, gas, food, school costs etc. At the moment he has no TV licence as he can’t get the money together to pay for it. He dresses himself from charity shops. This is a man who is working a full week’s work to end up with so little.

I am not in arrears in my mortgage as the one thing I fear more than anything is losing the home I have made for myself and my son. I will go without food etc. to ensure my son is fed and well looked after, and my bills are paid.   We do not drink or smoke, and as for socialising, I cannot remember the last time I went out. The last holiday I had was in 2004.

We have nothing left to give.

When I say nothing, I mean nothing. I am pleading with the government to not let this huge cut to our family go through and to try to understand the extra costs a separated couple endures. We are simply honest, decent people who have always tried to do the right thing.”

One Family is extremely concerned by the Budget 2014 announcement of the replacement of the One Parent Family Tax Credit with a Single Person Child Carer Tax Credit. To read more and to download a pro-forma letter that you can adapt to send to your TDs about this issue, please click here.

The group Irish Parents for Equality are calling for signatures to a petition which can be found here.

* No details have been changed apart from the name of the mother

Abolition of the One Parent Family Tax Credit

One Family is extremely concerned by the Budget 2014 announcement of the replacement of the One Parent Family Tax Credit with a Single Person Child Carer Tax Credit as it causes a significant number of problems and possibly unintended outcomes.

The financial impact of abolition of the One Parent Tax Credit for the non-resident parent, as verified by Revenue, is:

Annual wage Difference in tax take per week
€13,500 (minimum wage x 30 hours) No change
€20,000 €13
€30,000 €10
€40,000 €48
€60,000 €47

The Revenue Commissioners estimates that for 2013, 76,800 income earners utilise some or all of the One-Parent Family Tax Credit. The gender breakdown is estimated as follows:

Female    51,224

Male       25,573

Total:    76,797

One Family has written to all Ministers, TDs and Senators to voice these concerns and urges everyone to write to their Representatives as soon as possible to do the same.

A proforma letter with suggested text that individuals can change as required is available to download here: One Parent Family Tax Credit_Letter to Representatives

A list of TDs and Senators including their contact details is available here.

One Family representatives have also participated in a number of press, radio and television interviews on the issue. You can read the press releases issued by One Family below:

17.10.2013 | Attack on Parents Sharing Parenting After Separation is Unjust, Unfair and Underhand

15.10.2013 | Budget 2014 is Anti-family and Anti-parent

Analysis of Department of Social Protection’s Reporting of Control Savings

In April 2013, One Family carried out an analysis of the Department of Social Protection’s (DSP) Reporting of  ‘Control Savings’. Control Savings is the internal performance indicator on the effectiveness of the Department of Social Protection’s (DSP) control measures. We found that there is enough evidence to be concerned that the Department’s guidelines are not applied consistently across regions and that the predetermined multipliers used to generate estimated future savings do not accurately reflect return rates to welfare schemes.

Read or download the analysis here: One Family Analysis_DSP Control Savings Research_April 2013.

One Family’s findings:

  1. The multiplier used to calculate potential savings by the Department is 4 1/4 times higher than that used to calculate potential savings in Jobseekers Allowance.
  2. Consequently reported levels of OPFP fraud have been inflated.
  3. This highlights a significant error with the Department’s predetermined multipliers Office of the (Comptroller & Auditor General. (2011), op cit., pp 471-472).

One Family’s Reaction to Rental Assistance Reforms

It has been confirmed by the Minister of State for Housing and Planning, Jan O’Sullivan TD, that the responsibility for the payment of rent allowance is to be handed over to local authorities as a pilot in seven areas around the country including Limerick Joint Authority (previously Limerick City and County Councils) and one in Dublin from January 2014.

One Family has reacted today to how the Department of Social Protection (DSP) and local authorities are placed to tackle the significant challenge of implementing the reforms to rental assistance and these changes transferring both the assessment and payments to local authorities.

Stuart Duffin, our Director of Policy & Programmes, commented:  “Working to manage the introduction of the rental assistance reforms will be the challenge, not the change in who pays. Their full impact is currently uncertain and depends on how households and the housing market react, locally as well as nationally. DSP and all local authorities have a crucial role to play in anticipating and addressing adverse consequences for claimants and the administration. Some challenges cannot perhaps be planned for: where the interaction of local authority funding constraints, the social housing stock, rental market conditions and the local economy produces extreme impacts. As issues emerge, the Department will need to be capable of a flexible response, well-coordinated with other sources of support for families.”

The Department is actively preparing for the implementation of these housing supports reforms and One Family calls on it to use available data to assess the impact of the reforms on current entitlements. We ask if these reforms will result in households receiving lower assistance, particularly in areas of high rent such as Dublin, and how will this impact on an already landlord-driven rental market?

Ten questions to be resolved are:

  1. What are the new local housing allowance restrictions and guidelines?
  2. Will this impact on all claimants immediately?
  3. Is there any additional help to support those who are hardest hit and is there a discretionary payments fund?
  4. Is this intended to help all  those who may  lose out  financially?
  5. What happens to existing  customers?
  6.  Are there changes planned  for direct payments of local rental allowance to  landlords?
  7. What is the financial impact  of this change?
  8.  How will local housing  allowances be  implemented in the future?
  9. Will direct payments to landlords be allowed in the social rented sector?
  10. How will housing costs be calculated ?

The Government must intend the reforms to improve the system. However, reforms could also lead to hardship or an increased risk of homelessness. How tenants and landlords will respond is highly uncertain at the moment and the Department must commission independent research to evaluate the impact of the reforms during and after implementation.

The Department needs to be actively working with all local authorities to identify the extent to which the reforms will increase the administrative burden on the authorities. It clearly has further ground to cover. Many people know very little about the changes, and the extent to which those affected have been informed varies according to where they live.

Private rented sector households know little or nothing about the changes that would affect them.

The Department has put in place transitional support through increased funding for discretionary housing payments. It needs to work with other departments and local authorities to monitor emerging issues and manage risks for both private and social tenants.

Ten Days for Ten Solutions

With just ten days remaining until Budget 2014 on Tuesday 15 October, we are inviting everyone to support 10 Solutions. No Cuts. by taking one simple action on each of these ten days.

10 Solutions for Smarter Futures is our response to the harsh cuts aimed at lone parents in Budget 2012. These are changes that will benefit everyone, not just those on low incomes, as 10 Solutions for Smarter Futures is a series of ten no-nonsense, low or no-cost actions that Government can deliver to make life better for everyone.

How can you support the 10 Solutions campaign?

There are a number of things you can do.  These include:

1. Email your local TDs – use our pre-populated email facility. It takes less than two minutes on this link.
2. Join and share the ‘10 Solutions. No Cuts.’ event on Facebook. You can also change your profile pic to a 10 Solutions pic (available here).
3. Share on Twitter via @1FamilyIreland and #10Solutions.
4. Ask your colleagues and contacts, family and friends to support the campaign for 10 Solutions by taking the actions above too.

Read more about 10 Solutions here.

Public call to give one-parent families an equal chance for economic well-being in Budget 2014

Press Release

(Dublin, Friday 19 July) Today One Family, Ireland’s leading organisation for one-parent families, calls on members of the public to email and connect with their local TDs to demand the implementation of One Family’s “10 Solutions for Smarter Futures,” a series of ten no-nonsense, low or no-cost actions that government must implement to better the lives of the adults and children in one-parent families who continue to experience the highest rates of poverty in Ireland. 2014 is the 20th anniversary of Family Day as proclaimed by the UN – the Irish Government should reflect this by giving one-parent families an equal chance.

There are over 215,000 one-parent families in Ireland today and over half a million people living in one-parent families. One Family calls on each of these families, and everyone who knows a member of a one-parent family, to join in the campaign by emailing their local TD to ensure that all of Ireland’s families can enjoy a higher quality of life.

One Family Director of Policy and Programmes, Stuart Duffin, commented: “The 10 Solutions are all about delivering some of the supports needed to enable lone parents to have Smarter Futures out of poverty, off social assistance and into quality sustainable jobs.  These solutions may not require a lot of money but they do require public services and policy makers to think and behave creatively in order to deliver more appropriate and effective services for their customers and constituents.”

10 Solutions for Smarter Futures is part of One Family’s Strategy 2013-2015, launched last month on the 28th.  These solutions are focused on improving the well-being of Ireland’s one parent families, and they are changes that will benefit everyone. Just over 87,000 people are in receipt of the One-Parent Family Payment (OFP).  Mr. Duffin explains: “The new Jobseekers Allowance payment, which responds to our call for Flexibilities, is designed to allow former recipients of OFP whose youngest child is under 14 years of age to avail  of Minister Burton’s activation services to return to work, education or training. The implementation of 10 Solutions for Smarter Futures would make a real difference for lone parents as they move into the workplace, education and/or training as the solutions fully recognise the particular difficulties that can be faced by those parenting alone such as lack of child care and long-term absence from the labour market.”

Mr. Duffin commented further: “To help some of the poorest children in Ireland have a better life, please champion and advocate for 10 Solutions.

One Family’s Number 1 solution is:

Flexibilities: allow lone parents who are moving to Jobseeker’s Allowance to seek only part-time work during the school term in order to assist lone parents who have a child with a disability or lack of access to childcare or are coping with a bereavement or separation.

Others include: solution 5 – Responsive Learning; solution 6 – Progression Opportunities; solution 10 – Poverty and Parent Proofing.

Members of the public are invited to visit www.onefamily.ie to learn more about 10 Solutions for Smarter Futures and to add their voices to the campaign by availing of the facility there to email their TDs. For additional information, they may also email: solut10ns@onefamily.ie.

Notes for Editors:

  • 1 in 4 families with children in Ireland is a one-parent family
  • Over half a million people live in one-parent families in Ireland
  • Almost 1 in 5 children (18.3%) live in a one-parent family (Census 2011)
  • There are over 215,000 one-parent families in Ireland today (25.8% of all families with children; Census 2011)
  • 87,586 of those are currently receiving the One-Parent Family Payment.
  • Those living in lone parent households continue to experience the highest rates of deprivation with almost 56% of individuals from these households experiencing one or more forms of deprivation (EU-SILC 2011).
  • The full 10 Solutions for Smarter Futures document is available to read here.
  • Twitter #10Solutions


About One Family

One Family was founded in 1972 and is Ireland’s leading organisation for one-parent families offering support, information and services to all members of all one-parent families, to those experiencing an unplanned pregnancy and to those working with one-parent families. Children are at the centre of One Family’s work and the organisation helps all the adults in their lives, including mums, dads, grandparents, step-parents, new partners and other siblings, offering a holistic model of specialist family support services. These services include the lo-call askonefamily national helpline on 1890 622 212, counselling, and provision of training courses for parents and for professionals. One Family also promotes Family Day, an annual celebration of the diversity of families in Ireland today, with almost 10,000 people attending events this year on 19 May (www.familyday.ie). For further information, visit www.onefamily.ie.


Available for Interview

Stuart Duffin, Director of Policy & Programmes | t: 01 662 9212 or 087 062 2023


Further Information/Scheduling

Shirley Chance, Director of Communications | t: 01 662 9212 or 087 414 8511


One Family attends pre-budget workshop today, our key messages tracked

One Family and the National One Parent Network attended the pre-budget workshop today – a much better interactive approach than previous years. One Family’s key messages and all of our ten solutions in our campaign 10 Solutions for Smarter Futures can be tracked in the Minister’s Department’s thinking about Budget 2014.

Work must pay; therefore in-work supports for those parenting alone must be delivered including:

  • the reform of FIS;
  • affordable, accessible and quality childcare;
  • tailored supports for families so that the most disadvantaged are supported;
  • outcome-based budgets which enforce departments to deliver joined-up thinking for the whole of Government prioritised. That helps to make public resources last, and aids decision makers in prioritising public and social investments that align with the services and supports that people, families and communities have told Government they need to achieve economic independence.

The Department of Social Protection’s budget is a key mechanism in delivering social investment.  Our recommendations are aimed at ensuring that better supports are provided for families. Helping people to better participate in and benefit from inclusion in the economy and community will both encourage economic activity over the short term and provide a strong foundation for longer-term economic growth.

One Family looks forward to working with the government and other stakeholders in this transformation of Ireland’s antiquated social assistance system. As the transformation begins, it is crucial that existing programmes and allowances be kept in place. New supports and programmes must be fully implemented before cuts or reductions in current benefits are made. Incomes for people on social assistance are so marginal that every Euro counts, and every Euro is spent in the local economy which contributes to sustained local economic development.

Annual Review 2012 and Strategy 2013-2015

We are pleased to launch our Annual Review 2012 and Strategy 2013-2015, which may be read and/or downloaded by clicking on the links below:

One Family Annual Review 2012

One Family Strategy 2013-2015

Update on JAT following briefing at Dept of Social Protection

One Family attended a briefing this evening at the Department of Social Protection to learn about the new scheme announced today that will be available to lone parents:  Jobseekers’ Allowance – Transition.

The scheme removes the requirement to be looking and available for full-time employment, but has particular conditionalities that must be met. The Department will be sending letters out to those who were previously expected to move onto Jobseekers’ Allowance in the first week of July. Local offices will not have full details of the JAT until next week.

To read additional information from One Family, including Q&A, please click here.

Anyone who has any questions regarding the upcoming transition, please call the askonefamily lo-call helpline on 1890 662 212.