Policy | Impacts of Budget 2012 Still Felt Today

Five years ago today, on Tuesday 5 December 2011, former Ministers Joan Burton and Brendan Howlin rose in the Dáil to read out Budget 2012. None of us could have anticipated just how horrendous it would be for poor one-parent families, and how long-reaching the impacts of the cuts announced. There was no evidence of social policy planning behind the ‘reforms’ and the consequences have been that thousands more children have lived in higher levels of poverty and thousands of parents have lost jobs and incomes. Children living in one parent family households are almost twice as likely to live in poverty than other children; 23% of children in a one-parent family experience deprivation (SILC 2014).

Along with other organisations, One Family has successfully worked over the past five years to have some of these cuts reversed, but much of it was too little too late by Government. We summarised the negative impacts of consecutive Budgets for one-parent families in this document.

We now need to continue to work together to build a brighter future for all the children in Ireland living in one-parent families.




Briefing doc from DSP on final changes to OPF payment

Here is the Briefing document on Changes to OFP  from DSP on the (final) changes to the One Parent Family payment following the budget. If you’ve any questions feel free to contact askonefamily helpline 1890622122. Several additional points that came up in the discussion were:

  • OPFP recipients who move on to the back to education scheme would not return to OPFP as new claimants but retain their original relation to the phasing in of the age reduction.
  • The non-cohabitation rule will not apply to new OPFP recipients who move on to a CE scheme, because with the loss of double payments the criteria applicable to them will be only those of the CE scheme. This is only for NEW applicants, those who are currently on CE scheme and in receipt of double payment (their OPFP) would need to meet the non-cohabitation rule.
  • The loss of the double qualified child increase for those OPFP recipients on CE will have this change automatically applied to their payment and will not need to contact Social Welfare.
  • OPFP recipients who move on to CE scheme will not lose their fuel allowance.
  • And finally, in relation to the phasing in of the new eligibility criterion, the date that the payment is cut is the child’s birthday and not the beginning  of the year. So for example, if the cut-off is 7 years of age, and the child enters the year at the age of six, they will retain eligibility until they turn 7.

One parent’s story of parenting alone in 2012

Niamh rang our askonefamily 1890 662212 helpline, here’s her personal story of parenting alone in Ireland in 2012. It will make you think….

I work in the Kildare area and am a single mother with two girls.  One eight year old and a three year old.

My youngest child goes to a local private creche four mornings and one afternoon and my eldest child has to go to the creche’s afterschool club at 2.45.  I depend on the help of my friend to collect her from school those days and drop her over to the after school club.

The cost is €120 a week and I dread the holidays and school breaks as it is a nightmare.  I have to pay for extra childcare for my eldest child. This can bring my childcare costs to €250 per week.  My wages are €320 a week and I receive at the moment €157 One Parent Family Payment, to be dropped to €148, with the earnings disregard dropping to €130 per week.  My work is of a caring and administrative nature. The children’s dad cannot help financially but does collect the children for me and takes care of the 3 year old when she isn’t at creche and I have to work. I have to be flexible on a week to week basis and never know until Friday what my next week’s work schedule will be.  The pressure and stress of this is sometimes unbearable.  I cannot hassle the children’s dad for money as a. I know he has none as he is unemployed at the moment and b. if he wasn’t unemployed I would have to pay a lot more childcare c.  I have to keep quiet with him as he is doing me a favour by collecting the children and looking after them when I need him to.  d. If he didn’t do this for me I wouldn’t be able to afford the extra childcare on my wages.  He enables me to keep my job.

My mortgage is €450 per month and I have a loan for house renovations as I had to get a new roof due to a major leak, payback of €100 per week.  I have furniture on H.P as we needed beds and a cooker and fridge and this is taken from my account every month.  I have union fees of €20 every month also and house insurance of €460, approx €8 a week. TV licence €3 per week, Bins €6 pw. ESB €20 pw, not inclusive of food and clothes and heat and the basics of living.  Now I have the €100 house charge and most likely water rates coming.

My children never had a holiday.  I work all summer to keep my head above water.  I feel guilty when my child tells me of her friend’s holidays.  I couldn’t get extra work with my employer as if I did, I would have to pay the creche extra.  The time is not available at work anyway and there is talk that we may be losing hours to keep the costs down.

I refuse to let this hurt or stop my children having a good life.  I sit and help with homework every evening and am making sure my children have a very good start in like with a good work ethic.  They realise you have to work to get money to live.  I do not want them thinking you don’t have to work for a living.

Unfortunately, while my children are so young I cannot contemplate taking on more work as they need me and will for many years.  These are their vulnerable years.  I started paying creche fees in 2003 and have paid approximately  €7500 a year, this is covering school summer holidays and Easter and Christmas breaks.  I have also had to pay for minders to come in when the children are sick and the creche won’t take them.  Double payment, as the creche still has to be paid.

Where it will all end, I do not know.  Why isn’t the government encouraging us single parents by giving us creche credits or a voucher for the creche that our children attend.  In that way,  we would be spending the money only on childcare, it would keep the creche in full employment creating jobs, reduce the number of people on the dole and leaving people with money to spend, thus creating more jobs.

I do not know why the government thinks that cutting our money will encourage people to want to work.  Sometimes I feel when I’m running around at six in the morning to get myself and two children ready for work and school and creche, what is the point? Why don’t I stay at home and be there all the time for the children. Forget creche, forget work, forget the stress of it all. Sell the house, pay the bank and go on the housing list and get help with my rent.  I’m trying to do everything right and I feel I am cut down at every turn.

Sorry for the ranting, it’s good to get it off my chest. But, I must be doing something right though as both my kids are very happy and the eldest was the top of her class in her Christmas exams.

Niamh, 2012

Minister Burton responds to Ciara Conway TD re One Family queries

Ciara Conway T.D. has kindly given us permission to share the following information. Following our meeting with Ciara and our two page budget analysis, she raised several issues about the budget cuts with Minister Burton. Minister Burton’s letter of response is enclosed here and this is One Family Director Karen Kiernan’s response to Ciara Conway:

Dear Ciara,

Many thanks for corresponding with Minister Burton on our behalf. Whilst the letter provides factual information and some of it is drawn from the letter that will shortly go to parents in relation to the One-Parent Family Payment unfortunately it is still not clear what the Department’s strategy is in this area, what policy and research this was based on and how they will ameliorate the poor education levels of parents, the lack of employment and the absolute dearth of afterschool care.

Regrettably it has become clear to me that these cuts were made without reference to policy or research but were simply a means of cutting the budget without touching the principal rates of social welfare payments. What is even more unfortunate is that so many of these cuts have fallen on the shoulders of the poorest families and children in Ireland. One Family and our members will continue to speak and advocate on these issues and we appreciate your assistance to date and we look forward to working with you in the future.

Best wishes, Karen

Press Release | Urgent Reversals Required Before Drastic Cuts Foisted on Ireland’s Poorest Families

Media Release, 8 December 2011


Urgent reversals required before drastic cuts foisted on Ireland’s poorest families

One Family, the leading national organisation for one-parent families, is extremely concerned at the cuts targeted at one-parent families in Budget 2012. Our thousands of members, clients and supporters are also very concerned and our national helpline has been inundated with calls from worried and angry parents.

We are instigating a national campaign to reverse these targeted cuts at Ireland’s poorest families and we call on supporters from all over Ireland and from every political background to support us. Legislation to pass Budget 2012 is going through the Dail on Friday (tomorrow) so there is a great urgency in this campaign. We have already contacted all Ministers and TDs.

The immediate impact of Budget 2012 on one-parent families is:

  • An additional €6 per week to be paid by parents towards rent supplement
  • A loss of €120 per year towards fuel costs
  • A loss of €50 per primary school age child and €55 for secondary school age child in Back to School Clothing & Footwear Allowance cuts
  • An increase in VAT, fuel costs, school transport costs as well as school capitation grants
  • The loss of €29.80 per child per week because of the cut in the two qualified child increases where the parent is on a Community Employment Scheme and One Parent Family Payment
  • New CE scheme applicants will no longer able to retain the One Parent Family Payment and their salary from their participation in the CE scheme
  • For the minority of one-parent families with three or more children, a loss of €228 per year for a family with 3 children and €432 for those with 4 children.

The activation measures announced in Budget 2012 have been designed to cut costs to the exchequer rather than support lone parents into sustainable employment and they will not work. Some cuts will actually disconnect lone parents from the labour market in direct contradiction of government policy. They will increase rather than alleviate high levels of child and family poverty for the following reasons:

  • We are in a recession and there are no jobs
  • There are no specialist supports to help lone parents engage with education, training and the labour market
  • The level of money in the Community Childcare Subvention scheme has been cut and there will be a €25 weekly contribution to costs from FÁS and VEC trainees for Childcare Education and Training Support
  • There is poor provision of after school care in Ireland
  • There is poor childcare provision in parts of the country
  • There is very little part-time or modular education
  • Budget 2012 has cut family supports through the Family Resource Centre programme and the Family Mediation Service at a time when more families are separating
  • Slashing the income disregard will result in increased poverty levels and a disconnection from the labour market
  • Education levels of many lone parents are low and they will require long term interventions to help them progress to degree level
  • Disincentivising Community Employment as a means of gaining training, accreditation, work experience and a salary will increase a disconnection from the labour market.

We demand the following changes to Budget 2012:

  • Devise an additional payment for the poorest children in Ireland to compensate for all the cuts to family income
  • Reverse the decision to disallow the payment of partial One Parent Family Payment to those on Community Employment
  • Maintain the income disregard at current levels for the foreseeable future at €146.50 per week
  • Develop appropriate supports and services in partnership with the voluntary sector to progress lone parents into sustainable employment and pause the lowering of the age limit for OFP eligibility until this is achieved
  • Prioritise the case management of lone parents in the new National Employment and Entitlements Service and ensure all supports for those on the live register are available to OFP recipients.

Here is the context in which one-parent families in Ireland live:

  • 65% of the country’s poorest children live in one-parent families
  • You are four times more likely to live in consistent poverty in a one-parent family than other families (SILC, 2010)
  • Those parenting alone were the most negatively affected by the previous budget, losing almost 5% of their annual income. This compared with just a 1.3% fall for high income married couples (TASC, 2011)
  • One-parent families were poor in the Celtic Tiger and remain so now
  • Low education levels (ESRI, Persistent at Risk of Poverty in Ireland 2011 and Growing-Up in Ireland 2011).

For more information contact:

Hilary Fennell, Communications Manager 01 6629212/087 2359515

Stuart Duffin, Welfare to Work Manager 01 6629212/087 0622023

Karen Kiernan, Director 01 6629212/086 8509191

One Family calls for revearsal on Budget 2012 cuts affecting one-parent families

We know that many of you are worried, angry and confused by what has been announced in Budget 2012 in relation to one-parent families.  We hear that many of you want to have your voices heard and the cuts reversed. Your comments, personal stories and views are essential so do please keep sharing not just with One Family but also with the media and our politicians. We want to have as many of these cuts reversed as possible because they are unfair and will lead to even deeper levels of poverty in one-parent families and will absolutely not help people into sustainable jobs.

We are sending a letter to all the Ministers, backbenchers and opposition TDs seeking meetings with them and calling on their support to reverse the cuts. We enclose a copy here

We are calling on you to help us by lobbying them as well.  Just adapt the enclosed letter and send it off yourself. Feel free to include your own story and issues. Visit your local TD in their clinic this weekend – speaking to people in person has a huge impact. Explain to them why it is not possible to cut poor families anymore and then expect them to work. We know many of you are interested in having a protest about this issue and this is something we would also like to look at with the help of other organisations so that we can mobilise enough people to be really seen and heard.

Please let us know who you have lobbied and if you are interested in a taking part in a protest by emailing or calling 01 6629212

Remember, our askonefamily helpline is there to provide information and support should you need it on 1890 662212. We will post updates when we know the dates of implementation for the various cuts. Thanks from everyone in One Family.


Budget 2012 – easy to read points on how it might affect you

One Parent Family Payment

 The rate of payment for the One Parent Family Payment will remain at €188 for the adult and €29.80 per child, per week.

The upper age limit of the youngest child for new claimants of the One-Parent Family Payment will be reduced to 7 years on a phased basis. It will be reduced to 12 years with effect from 2012, then age 10 in 2013 to age 7 in 2014.

There is a reduction in the amount of income disregard for One Parent Family Payment from €146.50 a week to €130 per week.  Further reductions will follow in the next four years.

The transitional payment of half of the rate of One-Parent Family Payment will be discontinued when the recipient’s earnings exceed €425 per week. Existing recipients of the transitional payment will not be affected.

Child Benefit

The amount of child benefit will remain at €140 a month for the first two children, then €148 for the third child and €160 for the fourth child and subsequent children.  Over two years the rate will be standardized for all children. Read more

Budget 2012 main social welfare changes and rates

Budget update – here are the main social welfare changes and rates of payment from the Dept of Social Protection. Thanks for all the comments and suggestions to get involved in a campaign. We’ll post more about that and our response to the cuts soon too.

One-parent families to suffer under today’s harsh budget

5 December 2011 Media Release

One-parent families to suffer from today’s harsh budget

Ireland’s poorest families, particularly those parenting alone, have been abandoned by today’s budget and left to face the worst, according to One Family, Ireland’s leading organisation for one-parent families. As he announced today’s budget, Minister Howlin said  ‘…I believe that we have a duty to protect the most vulnerable in our society, and to provide the safety net of social protection in what are very extraordinary times. We must also get people back to work…’ One Family believes that, in the case of one-parent families, the Government has failed on both fronts.

Under the new budget, the upper age limit of the youngest child for new claimants of the One-Parent Family Payment will be reduced to 7 years on a phased basis. Karen Kiernan, One Family Director comments, ‘This means that, by 2014, lone parents of children aged 7 will be deemed available for full-time work despite the fact that we are in a recession, there are hardly any jobs out there and, even if there were, there is no comprehensive affordable childcare or after school care.’ Read more