Cuts to Carer’s Allowance for Lone Parents Reversed by Tánaiste –
But what about working lone parents?
(Dublin, Wednesday 4 March 2015) One Family – Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone, sharing parenting and separating – welcomes Tánaiste Joan Burton’s announcement yesterday regarding people in receipt of the One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) who are also eligible for the half-rate Carer’s Allowance. That they will not now lose their half-rate Carer’s Allowance as had been previously stipulated is progress. However, we warn that Government also needs to urgently rethink how OFP activation measures are impacting on over 30,000 lone parents this year, particularly those working lone parents who will be hardest hit.
Karen Kiernan, One Family CEO, responds: “While this necessary turnaround is welcomed, the Tánaiste also referred in the Dáil debate on the Social Welfare Bill yesterday to 10,000 lone parents who are currently in employment, saying that ‘the majority will have an immediate incentive to increase the number of hours worked each week to 19’ and, being then eligible to apply for Family Income Supplement (FIS) and the Back to Work Family Dividend (BTWFD), would ‘be financially better off than their current position’.”
Karen further responds: “Sadly this statement again demonstrates the separation between Government’s perspective and the lived reality of one-parent families in Ireland today. The reality for most people is that they cannot simply demand that their employers increase their hours of employment because the Tánaiste thinks it’s good policy. This also ignores the reality that a lone parent with one child currently in employment and earning €200 per week while receiving FIS will be financially worse off by up to €38.32 per week after losing their entitlement to the OFP in July.”
Stuart Duffin, One Family Director of Policy & Programmes, comments: “This news will be welcomed by parents who provide caring supports for an adult; those who had lost their Carer’s Allowance entitlement of €86 per week last year and the 800 people who were scheduled to this year. It is a lifeline for the most vulnerable families with children who also care for family members who are ill, elderly or have special needs. It should have been just about the last thing Ministers should have considered cutting in the first place.”
Stuart continues: “This announcement by the Tánaiste may help the rest of Government to rethink how we deliver welfare reform which is crucial for people in acute need. We know that lone parents want to work and 53% are already in the labour market. What we keep calling for is provision of affordable, accessible, quality childcare which remains the greatest barrier to those parenting on their own in returning to the workplace or education. There needs to be a joined up plan of delivery across all Departments.”
The Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) 2013 results published on 21 January this year showed that those living in households with one adult and one or more children had the highest deprivation rate in 2013 at 63.2% and the highest consistent poverty rate at 23%. Reforms and activation should not force any lone parents who are in work to have to give up their jobs.
While the Department of Social Protection has committed to clearly communicating with all lone parents affected by the changes, we are also hearing from parents about gaps in knowledge in many local social welfare local offices where staff are not familiar with the impacts of the changes to the One-Parent Family Payment. This can lead to provision of inadequate or incorrect information to lone parents and causes unnecessary worry and stress for one-parent families.
Lone parents want to create the best possible outcomes for their children. With the right policies, the right time-frame, and the right level of political will, choices can be made to enable those thousands of one-parent families suffering deprivation to grow out of poverty and achieve better futures.
One Family continues to call on the Department of Social Protection to Get It Right for One-Parent Families #GetItRightDSP.
About One Family
One Family was founded in 1972 as Cherish and is Ireland’s leading organisation for one-parent families 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
Stuart Duffin, Director of Policy & Programmes | t: 01 662 9212 or 087 062 2023
Karen Kiernan, CEO | t: 01 662 9212 or 086 850 9191