Government Policies Are Failing Poor Families
askonefamily helpline calls up by another 30%
One Family Annual Review 2014
(Dublin, Monday 17 August 2015) One Family, Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone, sharing parenting and separating, launches its Annual Review 2014 as its askonefamily helpline continues to respond to an unprecedented rise in numbers of distressed callers. In 2014, helpline calls rose by 30%. This followed a 20% rise in 2013; and in 2015, to date, a staggering 50% increase. This worrying trend reflects the reality for one-parent families in Ireland today as Government choices are creating more poverty for children and parents in thousands of one-parent families. These are families who have already borne the brunt of cuts since Budget 2012. These are families who simply have no resources left, yet Government continues its onslaught of activation without adequate supports as 57,000 lone parents have now been transitioned.
Karen Kiernan, One Family CEO explains: “The transition of parents in receipt of the One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) to different payments when their youngest child reached the age of seven continued through 2014 and into this year. The uncertainty and confusion around implementation of this reform process, and fear over its impacts, have contributed hugely to the increase in calls to our helpline. Our evidence shows that vulnerable one-parent families are being hit very hard. Those who are already working part-time are telling us of the catastrophic affects on their families as they experience huge cuts in income. The priority must be to work effectively to end child poverty and improve outcomes for one-parent families. Government still has the opportunity to implement policies that can achieve this.”
Stuart Duffin, One Family Director of Policy & Programmes, comments: “We have put forward our ‘10 Solutions’ campaign – actions that Government could take to make a real difference. We have continuously highlighted that the reform of the OFP is working against stated Government policy, as barriers to employment such as accessible affordable childcare remain insurmountable while the reform is forcing many out of work. For these families, homelessness is a greater threat than ever before. At any one time up to two thirds of families in emergency accommodation are one-parent families. This is shameful. It did not have to be like this. It is still not too late for Government to reverse the damage done and work positively to end child poverty.”
Research shows that a key contributor to children’s futures is not the structure of their families but living in consistent poverty. One in four families in Ireland is a one-parent family and 58% of lone parents are employed. Only 45,000 lone parents are now in receipt of the One-Parent Family Payment. They want to work and they want to learn. The policies of activation being directed towards these families are not working. Children in one-parent families are still more than twice as likely to live in poverty. The number of children in Ireland living in consistent poverty – meaning they are living both at risk of poverty and experiencing deprivation – has risen to nearly 12%; while 23% of children in a one-parent family experience deprivation.
Karen continues: “We are stating loudly and clearly that Government must invest in Budget 2016 in a coherent package of supports and services for parents moved off the One-Parent Family Payment and onto Job Seeker’s Allowances, if it is sincere about wanting to support people who parent on their own into sustainable employment and out of social welfare. Government must also stop using atypical examples to demonstrate the so-called ‘success’ of these policies and listen to what real one-parent families, who have lost up to €110 per week from already tight budgets, are saying about this process. Budget 2016 is an opportunity for false realities to be finally discarded and the lived realities of one-parent families in Ireland to be heard.”
One Family’s Annual Review 2014 can be read/downloaded here.
Budget 2016 Submission
One Family’s recommendations for Budget 2016 are simple, low cost and cost effective; and provide a social and economic future which is based on investment and opportunity.
A package of supports for OFP recipients being transitioned must include:
- The Income Disregard to remain at €90 for all OPFs regardless of their payment.
- Equal access to all activation measures and in particular MOMENTUM.
- Access to free fees for part-time education options.
- Allow JSTA CE participants to have an additional payment of €50/week equalising it with JobBridge in recognition of family costs.
- Provide specialist bridging programmes for lone parents such as New Futures and New Steps.
- Raise the Qualified Child Increase to help reduce child poverty by tailoring it to the poorest families.
- Recognise the value and costs of shared parenting by providing the Single Person Child Carer Tax Credit to each parent.
- Adjust the Family Income Supplement so that it makes work pay for lone parents by reducing the qualifying hours to 15 hours per week and taper payment.
- Provide a high quality accessible Childcare and Out Of School Care system.
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
- People who are parenting alone and who have been affected by this reform process.