Budget 2012 must not create a poverty trap for
Ireland’s Most Vulnerable Families and their children
One Family, Ireland’s national organisation of one-parent families has launched its Pre-Budget Submission 2012. One Family recognises the pressures currently on the public finances but calls on Government to reframe its priorities in Budget 2012 to ensure that those already experiencing high levels of poverty and social exclusion are protected from any more cuts as a result of the recession.
At the Pre-Budget Forum on Friday 16 September One Family highlighted to Minister Joan Burton TD the high and persistent levels of poverty experienced by one-parent families in Ireland with 17.8% of lone parent households living in consistent poverty, a rate more than four times the national average (4.2%) and 65% of all children in consistent poverty living in lone-parent households (ESRI, 2010).
Karen Kiernan, One Family Director, says:
‘The reality is that the majority of those parenting alone are worried about the future, they are struggling to make ends meet and are faced with increasing debt. Naturally, their children are affected as a result. Budget 2012 needs to ensure that the children of our members and clients are not trapped in financial poverty as well as a poverty of opportunity.’
One Family believes that one-parent families cannot be subjected to further cuts and must be supported to move out of poverty and off social welfare if overall government objectives in relation to child poverty and positive outcomes are to be achieved.
Stuart Duffin, One Family Welfare to Work Manager, explains:
‘Further cuts to the One-Parent Family Payment or Child Benefit are not the answer as they will simply lay the basis for wider inequality for lone parents in Irish Society. The effects of these cuts could take a generation to address and in the meantime are likely to reduce expectations of a better life for many one-parent families already struggling financially, socially and economically.’
Nor should social welfare cuts be imposed by stealth through the removal or reduction of secondary supports such as reductions in the income disregard of those on the One-Parent Family Payment, further changes in supports for those wishing to access education, changes in financial entitlements to Community Employment, or through decreases in already limited services for families going through relationship and marriage breakdown.
‘Government policy states that one-parent family poverty will decrease with increased labour market opportunities. Rather than imposing cuts, we want to see the Government acting on this. They must continue to support lone parents to enter, and remain, in the workforce if there is any hope of reducing child poverty and improving outcomes for children from one-parent families.’
One Family also calls on the Government to recognise and respond to the realities of family life and family diversity. Karen Kiernan commented:
‘Any changes to Government policy must be made within the context of international trends that show increasing diversity in family types. To quote the OECD, ‘the upward trend in sole parent households across OECD countries is….remarkable with the bulk of projections to 2025-30 suggesting that numbers are likely to increase by between 22% and 29%.’ (OECD Doing Better For Families, 2010.)
One Family is particularly calling on the Government in Budget 2012 to:
- Broaden and deepen the tax base.
- Make a sound and detailed analysis of the cost-benefits of proposed cuts and of their economic and social impact on already vulnerable groups, both in the short and long term.
- Support lone parents to enter the work force by reducing barriers – by ensuring all services for lone parents are tailored to their specific needs and providing affordable childcare.
- Ensure that lone parents are given an equal opportunity to participate in any future employment schemes such as the National Internship Scheme, JobBridge.
- Impact-proof all proposed cuts to ensure the vulnerable are protected.
- Develop and promote outcome based budget objectives across government Departments to ensure joined-up policy and practice.
- Reform the delivery of services to ensure best value for money and the achievement of expected outcomes.
For further information please contact
Stuart Duffin, Welfare to Work Manager, One Family 01 6629212 or 087 0622023
Karen Kiernan, Director, One Family 086 8509191