Government Claims to Have Protected ‘Most Vulnerable’
yet One-Parent Families are Poorer When Working
One Family supports today’s St Vincent De Paul report findings
(Dublin, Monday 22 September 2014) One Family – Ireland’s organisation for one-parent families and people sharing parenting – welcomes the St Vincent De Paul report published today which recognises that being a lone parent is one of the hardest survival situations in the State. One Family’s 42 years of experience delivering expert services to those parenting alone and sharing parenting helps to strengthen the SVP message.
Karen Kiernan, One Family CEO explains: “The devastating impact of Budget 2012 means that those parenting alone have been living a financially precarious life. Today’s child and family poverty statistics highlight the inconvenient truths for Government; that maintaining the value of social security support helps protect families with children from poverty, and that work isn’t working for far too many families. The government may claim to have protected the ‘most vulnerable’ but there are thousands of lone parents and their children living in desperate circumstances. We must move on from attacking those parenting alone to addressing real needs.”
Stuart Duffin, One Family Director of Policy & Programmes, highlights: “The stark evidence we collate on an on-going basis – from callers to our national askonefamily helpline and responses to our monthly survey – illustrate unequivocally that survival for our families in low-paid or no employment is balanced on a knife edge. This is because the support they get from the State is continuing to decline in real terms, while the barriers to returning to the workplace remain insurmountable for so many. If items such as food, social housing and childcare continue to become more expensive, these families’ overall incomes cannot keep up.”
Lone parents are being forced out of employment. One Family has heard from working lone parents who, with the changes being implemented from Budget 2012, have had a net income reduction of €200 per week. The ongoing reduction of the income disregard – the amount a lone parent in receipt of the One-Parent Family Payment can earn without a reduction in supports as they transition into employment – from €146.50 to €60 per week is working against Government policy. This reduction means that it is no longer financially viable for many to work which is the opposite of what Government claimed to set out to do – support lone parents into employment. Although 53% of lone parents are in the labour force, one-parent families remain those statistically most at risk of poverty. This cannot be justified.
Stuart Duffin further comments: “This isn’t just about balancing the high cost of housing, childcare and energy: it includes a family’s need to be part of society, by being able to participate in things many take for granted, such as buying a small birthday present or taking the children swimming on occasion. Government needs to square-up to in-work poverty. ”
One Family’s 10 Solutions to Government address this as a matter of urgency. Research shows that a key contributor to children’s futures is not the structure of their families but living in consistent poverty. Current policies mean that Ireland risks seeing more poor children becoming poor adults. This is catastrophic for their life chances and the public purse.
One Family’s demands for Budget 2015 are:
- Work must pay and be seen to pay.
- The proposed parental dividend must work in conjunction with an up-rated income disregard.
- Those parenting alone must have equal access to all of the government activation measures, such as MOMENTUM and access to free part-time education to help raise their labour market skills base.
- Comprehensive provision and support for Out Of School Childcare and Recreation (OSCAR). Currently, the new child care provision (ASCCS) only lasts for 12 months, is not available for existing workers and does not take into account existing childcare relationships.
- The Single Person Child Carer Tax Credit discriminates against those sharing parenting – most often against Fathers, in effect – and thus must recognise the realities of contemporary Irish family life.
About One Family
One Family was founded in 1972 as Cherish 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 sharing parenting, to those experiencing an unplanned pregnancy and to professionals 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 62 22 12, counselling, and provision of training courses for parents and for professionals. One Family also promotes Family Day and presents the Family Day Festival every May, an annual celebration of the diversity of families in Ireland today (www.familyday.ie). For further information, visit www.onefamily.ie.
Available for Interview
Karen Kiernan, CEO | t: 01 662 9212 or 086 850 9191
Stuart Duffin, Director of Policy & Programmes | t: 01 662 9212 or 087 062 2023