ONE-PARENT FAMILIES FACE THE FUTURE WITH FEAR NOT HOPE
One Family, the leading provider of specialist support services for one-parent families in Ireland, today calls on the Minister for Social and Family Affairs, Mary Hanafin T.D., to ensure that the most vulnerable families are not forced to pay further for the excesses of others.
One Family believes that Budget 2010 has the potential to destroy all the positive work that lone parents, their representatives and state agencies – including the Minister’s own Department – have done to reduce poverty and improve the prospects of one-parent families in Ireland. Such families are already poorer following the last budget, and have less hope of accessing education, training and employment than they had a couple of years ago. Such families are already having to watch opportunities for their children decrease and are now faced with the prospect of also losing many of the services that provide vital supports for them in their local communities.
Candy Murphy, Policy & Research Manager with One Family said:
‘One-parent families are already experiencing four times the level of poverty found in the general population. One Family is calling on Minister Hanafin today to ensure that such families will not be asked to pay more in the next Budget. Instead, we want an assurance the brunt of the economic downturn will be borne by those who can actually afford to pay it.’
She went on to say that:
‘One-parent families cannot cope with any further reductions in their income, be it from welfare cuts or cuts in child benefit. They cannot be expected to see their opportunities to participate in education and training programmes – or their ability to provide care for a relative – slashed by the removal of the so called ‘double payment’.’
Supports for vulnerable families, especially those experiencing relationship and marriage breakdown, must be maintained and expanded if we are to avoid creating even more victims of the current downturn.
Ms Murphy went on to say:
‘This is an opportunity for the Minister to demonstrate her commitment to the most vulnerable families in our society. We call on her to reinstate the Christmas bonus for families on social welfare as a gesture of solidarity with those facing into the festive season on even lower incomes this year.’
The infrastructure that supports families in Ireland is also being threatened with major cuts. Karen Kiernan, Director of One Family said:
‘If the McCarthy Report’s recommendations are implemented, organisations in the community and voluntary sector like One Family will face enormous difficulties in providing crucial services to their clients at a time when many more families are likely to need such services. We have already seen a 20% increase in calls to our helpline in recent months. Proposed cutbacks affecting the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, the Family Support Agency and the HSE have the potential to rapidly decimate the services that have been so painstakingly built up for families throughout Ireland.’
One Family has been providing specialist family support services to people parenting alone and sharing parenting for 37 years. Services include parenting and skills training, counselling, parent mentoring and national information supports.
For further information please contact:
- Hilary Fennell, Communications Manager 01 662 9212, 087 235 9515
- Candy Murphy, Policy Manager, 01 662 9212, 087 293 3180
Editors note: Facts about one-parent families:
· The number of one-parent families in Ireland increased from 153, 900 in 2002 to 189,200 in 2006. This represents a 23 per cent increase and means that one-parent families now represent 18 per cent of all families living in the state.
· The number of one-parent families with children under 20 years of age increased by 70.4 per cent between 1997 and 2006. In 2006, one-parent families represented 22 per cent of all families with children, an increase of 36 per cent since 2002.
· In 1980 there were approximately 30,000 one-parent families with children under 15 years old. In 2006 this was just over 99,000, an increase of 60 per cent. In 2006 94 per cent of lone parents with children under 15 were women, compared to 6 per cent of men.
- The latest EU-SILC figures for 2007 show that 20.1 per cent of people living in one-parent households are consistently poor compared to 5.1 per cent of the general population. Overall the figures indicate that at least
one in 5 one-parent families continue to live in consistent poverty, the government’s own measure of poverty at the height of the economic boom.
 Number of household with lone parents with children of any age.
 According to the CSO “it must be kept in mind that the more precise family coding allowed by the revised relationship question used in the 2006 census has contributed to this increase”. Census of Population 2006.
 Overall this is a decrease of over 10 per cent in the consistent poverty rate for members of lone parent households since the previous year. However a number of methodological considerations must be taken into account in interpreting these trends. In 2007 a new measure of consistent poverty was introduced that included two more forms of deprivation. This is now the official measure of consistent poverty. The figure presented above are comparing the consistent poverty rate using the old measure in 2006 and the new measure in 2007 and therefore are not directly comparable. Using the old measure of consistent poverty, in 2007 27 per cent of people living in lone-parent households were consistently poor compared to 33 per cent in 2006. Comparing the new measures, 27.3 of lone parents were living in consistent poverty in 2006 compared to 20.5 per cent in 2007. both figures indicate a decline of 7 percentage points in consistent poverty among one-parent families which is to be welcomed.