Stop Catastrophic Cut of One-Parent Family Payment Now
Child and family poverty for one-parent families is increasing under so-called reforms
(Dublin, Monday 4 May 2015) One Family – Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone, sharing parenting and separating – demands again that Government stop the current reform of the One-Parent Family Payment which is being phased in combined with a series of disastrous cuts and few of the supports required. The reform is failing. This failure means that people who parent alone and their children suffer the highest rates of poverty in Ireland today. Fewer parents are now in the workforce and it is becoming more difficult to access education; exactly the opposite of stated government policy. The reform is currently impacting on 55,000 parents in receipt of the One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) as they are moved to different payments; mainly to the newly introduced Job Seekers Transitional Allowance (JSTA) when their youngest child reaches the age of 7 or to Job Seekers Allowance (JSA).
Karen Kiernan, One Family CEO, responds: “Calls to our askonefamily helpline have increased by almost 50% in the past 15 months. Half of the families in emergency accommodation are one-parent families. We hear from parents who themselves do not eat dinner every day so their children can eat well. Fewer lone parents in receipt of the OFP are working now (36% in 2014 compared to 60% in 2012) and many parents have had to give up their part-time jobs as they no longer meet new eligibility criteria. Work does not pay. This is a failure for one-parent families, and for all of society.”
Karen further responds: “The stated aim of this reform process is to enable OFP recipients to access employment or education and move out of poverty, but this is not happening. The Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) 2013 results show that one-parent family households have the highest deprivation rate at over 63% and the highest consistent poverty rate at 23%. Combined with the cuts which have hit one-parent families since 2011 and without supports such as accessible childcare/out of school care yet in place, the real results of this reform are less lone parents working and more poverty for vulnerable families.”
Stuart Duffin, One Family Director of Policy & Programmes, adds: “A reform process that was meant to lift one-parent families out of poverty is clearly failing. A measure of the success of this process hinges on the engagement of parents with their local social welfare/INTREO offices, which is non-optional and threatens penalties for non-engagement. Yet we consistently hear from parents of the lack of adequate guidance and information available to them, along with some attitudes which they find distressing. Parents are being asked to put their trust in a system that has penalised, judged and targeted them for years; and on top of this, a system which now seems to remove their parenting status when their child reaches 7 years of age. Local office case workers must be named persons with expertise to provide guidance and support, and readily available to parents being moved to JSTA and JSA, if an engagement process is to make a real difference for one-parent families.”
Stuart continues: “Department of Social Protection staff needs to stop thinking of one-parent families as a homogenous group. Parents with degrees have reported being advised to do cookery courses or basic computer skills courses; while those more distant from education cannot access the supports they need to start their learning journey. The reform process is resulting in fewer parents being able to enter or stay in education, or to up-skill. This ‘one size fits all’ approach is doing little to enable parents to progress so that they can create better futures for their families. Government must pause this reform process immediately, review it, and – if it cannot be appropriately resourced so that it can be successful for one-parent families – reverse it completely.”
NOTES FOR EDITORS
Previous cuts that have targeted One-Parent Family Payment recipients since budget 2011 include:
- Budget 2013
- Back to School Clothing & Footwear Allowance (BTSCFA): Reduced from €250 to €200 for children aged 12+, and from €150 down to €100 for 4-11 year olds.
- Cost of Education Allowance (paid with Back to Education Allowance, BTEA) cut completely from €300 down to €0 for all new and existing BTEA recipients.
- Budget 2012
- BTSCFA, from €305 reduced to €250 for 12+, and from €200 down to €150 for 4-11 yr olds; age eligibility also increased from 2 to 4 year olds in 2012.
- Ongoing cuts to OFP include Income Disregard cut from €146.50 down to €90.
- The half rate transition payment of OFP was cut for those who were going into work and stopping payment.
- OFP recipients lost access to half rate payment for Illness Benefit and Jobseeker’s Benefit, where applicable.
- Fuel Allowance was reduced from 32 weeks to 26 weeks.
- Cost of Education Allowance (for BTEA recipients) reduced from €500 to €300.
- CE Scheme participants, many of whom were lone parents, had their training and materials grant cut from €1,500 to €500; and new CE participants from 2012 could not get ‘double’ payment, just €20 extra allowance.
- Budget 2011
- Cuts included the main rate of social welfare payments reduced from €196 down to €188.
- Child Benefit was reduced by €10 for 1st and 2nd child / €150 to €140; 3rd child / €187 to €167; 4th and subsequent child / reduced to €177.
- Christmas Bonus was discontinued (half-rate partial reinstatement for some last year).
About One Family
One Family was founded in 1972 as Cherish and is Ireland’s leading organisation for one-parent families and people sharing parenting or separating, 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 66 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
Shirley Chance, Director of Communications | t: 01 662 9212 or 087 414 8511