Thousands of children are poorer today as government activation policy comes into effect
for 30,000 one-parent families with children aged 7
(Dublin, Wednesday 24 June 2015) Thursday 25 June is the last date of payment of the One-Parent Family Payment to over 30,000 families as their youngest child reaches 7 years of age. This is resulting in increased levels of consistent poverty for many vulnerable families. Two national organisations, One Family and the Society of St Vincent de Paul, have again highlighted the lack of supports put in place to minimise the impact on the families affected.
“The Tánaiste must act urgently to put the necessary resources in place to support families during this reform process. Government must ensure that the focus is on ensuring that levels of child poverty do not further rise. As organisations working with one-parent families, we understand the lived realities of these parents and children. We witness their struggle. This reform is failing them. It means that 11,000 families will immediately lose income, resulting in even more children living in poverty,” they say.
One Family and the Society of St Vincent de Paul say that a reform process that was meant to lift lone parents and their children out of poverty is clearly failing. Instead it is resulting in fewer parents being able to enter or stay in education, to up-skill, or to keep the part-time jobs they already have. The supports necessary to enable lone parents to return to education and employment, such as access to affordable, quality childcare, have not been introduced. This is counter-productive to Government’s stated aim to enable these lone parents to move out of the social welfare system.
Stuart Duffin, One Family Director of Policy & Programmes, comments: “Calls to our askonefamily helpline have increased by 50%. We hear from very anxious and worried parents. They want to work and want to learn. They are determined to create brighter futures for their children. They are doing their best to overcome systemic barriers but this is not something that can happen within a reform process that penalises so many already in part-time employment.”
John-Mark McCafferty, SVP Head of Social Justice and Policy, further comments: “At any time, half to two thirds of homeless families living in emergency accommodation are one-parent families. Many more of the one-parent families we work with are on the verge of homelessness. Years of cuts have led to one-parent families being those families in Ireland with the highest levels of consistent poverty with 63% of individuals from these households experiencing one or more forms of deprivation (EU-SILC 2013). This reform will lead to even more families experiencing poverty.”
Both One Family and the Society of St Vincent de Paul have consistently argued for a progressive mix of policies and action to support parents to enter and remain in the work place and in education.
“The success of Ireland’s employment strategies is not just about the achievement of current policy and delivery reforms. Ireland has experienced lower unemployment rates without the current reforms. Quality employment opportunities for one-parent families that support parenting choices should be the policy goal,” they say.
Over 30,200 lone parents will receive their last One-Parent Family Payment on 25 June as this reform process first announced in Budget 2012 continues to be phased in, and over 11,000 have already been transitioned. These parents are being moved to different payments; mainly to the newly introduced Job Seekers Transitional Allowance (JSTA) or to Job Seekers Allowance (JSA).
Parents affected by the reform can call askonefamily helpline for information and support on 1890 66 22 12.
Click here for more detailed information and analysis on the One-Parent Family Payment reform and child poverty on the One Family website.
AVAILABLE FOR INTERVIEW
Stuart Duffin, Director of Policy & Programmes, One Family | t: 01 662 9212 or 087 062 2023
John-Mark McCafferty, Head of Social Justice and Policy, Society of St Vincent de Paul | t: 087 236 3995
One Family: Shirley Chance | t: 01 662 9212 or 087 414 8511
St Vincent de Paul: Jim Walsh | t: 087 254 1700
NOTES FOR EDITORS
Previous cuts that have targeted One-Parent Family Payment recipients since budget 2011 include:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
About the Society of St Vincent de Paul The Society of St Vincent de Paul is the largest voluntary charity in Ireland. It works with a diverse range of people who experience poverty and exclusion. The main recipients of support from SVP are households with children with most people requesting assistance are those in receipt of social welfare payments or on low incomes. With a network of almost 11.000 volunteers home visitation to families, carried out in strict confidence, is the core work of the Society. Through person-to-person contact, the SVP is committed to respecting the dignity of those they assist and fostering self-respect. They assure confidentiality at all times and endeavour to establish relationships based on trust and friendship. SVP believes that it is not enough to provide short term material support. Those the SVP assist are also helped to achieve self-sufficiency in the longer term and the sense of self-worth this provides. When problems are beyond their competence, they enlist the support of specialised help. SVP is also committed to identifying the root causes of poverty and social exclusion in Ireland and, in solidarity with poor and disadvantaged people, to advocate and work for the changes required to create a more just and caring society. Other aspects of the Society’s work include operating over 150 charity shops; 14 hostels; 15 daycare centres; 10 holiday centres and 66 housing schemes. It also provides exam revision classes, after-school activities, homework clubs and breakfast clubs