Children must pay for a celtic tiger they never saw
One Family, the leading provider of specialist support services for one-parent families in Ireland , says that reports regarding the Government’s possible u-turn are very worrying. If child benefit payments are cut regardless of means this will increase already high rates of poverty in one-parent families. Such families currently have a poverty rate of more than four times the national average according to the EU.
One-parent families have already experienced significant falls in income this year through a combination of reduced employment opportunities and hours of work, increased difficulties in securing and providing maintenance, higher income levies at lower entry points, reduced rent supplement and through the abolition of the Early Childcare Supplement. The abolition of the Christmas bonus will also have a very negative effect on many lone parents and their children.
Candy Murphy , Policy Manager, One Family, said ‘One Family totally opposes reported plans for an across the board cut in child benefit. Such a cut would significantly increase already unacceptably high rates of child poverty in Ireland affecting 10% of all children and a significantly higher number in one-parent families. Such a cut if introduced must be compensated for by a significant increase in targeted payments to children living in poverty.
‘One Family calls on the government to introduce a second tier of income support for children for low income families that will be employment-neutral as recommended first by NESC as far back as 2003 before any decision is made to cut child benefit.’ Ms Murphy concluded by saying: ‘2010 is the European Year against poverty and social exclusion – will catapulting more vulnerable families into poverty be Ireland’s main contribution towards this year?’
(1] In its report “An Investment in Quality: Services, Inclusion and Enterprise ” (March 2003) the National Economic and Social Council ( NESC) stated that:
“the Council believes that Ireland has still not found the best package of income support for children in low-income households. The CDIs (child dependent increase – now Qualified Child Allowance) are steadily losing their value for poor households; CB (Child Benefit )is not solely focused as a instrument for tackling child poverty – while it undoubtedly relieves some of the economic pressures in poor households, the scale of resources that would need to be channelled through it for it alone to eliminate poverty is not feasible; FIS (Family Income Supplement) benefits only children whose parents are in employment and the same is true for child additions to tax exemption limits; there are difficulties and delays that arise as families attempt the transition from receipt of CDIs to receipt of FIS. The Council is also aware that, while parental employment has been the single most important cause of the welcome reductions in child income poverty over the last decade, the same strategy is unlikely to be as successful in rescuing the significant number of children who remain in poverty. The design of a second tier of income support for children in poor families that would be neutral with respect to the work/no-work divide, therefore, has particular merit in the light of Ireland ’s new circumstances.” (p331)
The overwhelming majority of calls to the askonefamily national helpline this January related to the recession, job losses and money worries. The helpline experienced a 300% increase in calls in comparison to 2008 during the weeks of a national advertising campaign.
One Family has been in existence for 37 years and provides a range of services for one-parent families in Ireland . Services include parenting and skills training, counselling and parent mentoring and a wide range of information supports.