“If you looked at me you’d never think I have only €16 to my name. I wear a suit to work in a very well known company, my son is in a good crèche, I live in a 3 bedroom house (because it’s €100k in negative equity so I can’t afford to sell it). And here I am, without money for food.” – Lone parent quoted in One Family’s Pre-Budget Submission 2015
The overarching message of our Pre-Budget Submission 2015 is that all people share in Ireland, and we must believe that government has a responsibility to help people develop their strengths and their potential. We must look to long-term programmes to empower our communities, rather than short-term patches.
Last year we called for collaborators to work with One Family on an on-going basis in crafting our pre-budget submission. Subsequently, the One Family Budget Panel was formed in January 2014. The panel consists of twelve parents. It comprises those parenting alone and sharing parenting; parents from each Provence – urban and rural are represented; the age distribution of representation goes from 24 to 55; 60% of the parents are working either part or full-time; 45% of the parents are in education and/or training full or part-time; the gender split is 85% female and 15% male; 65% of the panel’s parents are in receipt of some form of social assistance, either One Parent Family Payment, Family Income Support or Carer’s Allowance.
The panel makes up a representative sample of lone parents across Ireland and its members collaborated with One Family to produce a pre-budget submission which reflects the lived reality for one-parent families in Ireland.
One Family further ensured the inclusion of the voices of lone parents and parents sharing parenting in our Pre-Budget Submission by inserting direct quotes from parents who responded to our monthly surveys and other One Family initiatives. Some of these quotes are included below:
“No one realises how vulnerable a single parent on benefits actually is. The housing and childcare are the two biggest practical issues I faced, along with stigma and isolation and loneliness and all the rest of it…when you cannot find a roof over your head it really hurts, it affects your mental health also.”
“For all the talk and publicity about anti-discrimination, there are many instances of legalised discrimination against lone parents in this country. Even if childcare was available, One Parent Family recipients cannot avail of employment where the employer is receiving Revenue Job Assist or JobsPlus schemes.”
“I believe my child deserves the same rights and to be treated with the same dignity as any child of a two parent family. What prevents this from happening is lack of adequate and affordable childcare.”
“I feel as I have been discriminated against by Revenue and the Government on these tax credit changes based on the fact that I am a dad and not the recipient of the children’s allowance. This has affected my net income, which is no more than the average industrial wage, by reducing it by €47 per week. This is crippling my ability to survive and meet my financial commitments and most importantly my ability to do the things I have endeavoured to do with my children.”
“I have a mortgage but since the breakdown of my marriage I am in significant arrears. Other party not engaging. I am struggling to keep a roof over my daughters head. No mortgage supports available to me.”
“We are caught in positions that revolve around our child care hours and location. It is extraordinarily difficult to further our careers as generally promotion equals more hours, and/or additional training which is impossible when you have to race back before the crèche closes.”
“It’s the feeling of being trapped by your circumstance, of knowing that you’ll never get out of it, that causes the low feelings and of feeling like a failure as a mother towards your child. It’s the fact that it’s not a temporary situation that causes these feelings for me. And it seems to be so hard for other people to understand, and makes it all the more difficult to handle, causing further isolation, maybe secrecy of the situation, bringing only further feelings of inadequacy.”
“What we need now, both lone mothers and fathers, is for policy makers to recognise the difficulties we face in parenting alone. We’re not looking for favours, just equal opportunities to provide for our kids to the best of our abilities.”
If you wish to read/download One Family’s Pre-Budget Submission 2015, it is available here: One Family 2015 Pre-Budget Submission_June 2014.