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Government has hindered not helped One-Parent Families in 2013

Press Release

Government has hindered not helped

One-Parent Families in 2013

(Dublin, Tuesday 10 December 2013) One Family, Ireland’s leading organisation for one-parent families, campaigned for 10 Solutions. No Cuts. in the lead up to Budget 2014. These ten solutions are practical and economic measures that would greatly improve the quality of the lives of the adults and children of one-parent families in Ireland today. The campaign, a response to the harsh cuts of Budget 2012 that impacted disastrously on so many lone parents, was strongly supported by members of the public with hundreds of emails sent to TDs around the country.

So has Budget 2014 helped Ireland’s poorest families and children, and enabled lone parents to get back to work? One Family analysed the success or failure of Government to achieve each of its proposed 10 Solutions for Smarter Futures and awarded a score to each. The ‘Report Card’ below shows some small improvements but a very disappointing overall assessment with greater effort needed in most areas.

Karen Kiernan, CEO of One Family, states: “Following the dire cuts unleashed on one-parent families in Budget 2012, One Family has been providing solutions to government on how to help  meet  its own policy objectives of getting lone parents into sustainable employment.  Government has followed some of what we have advised but it has a long way to go. There is deep and continuing dissatisfaction with the existing social assistance system from all quarters: community groups, business, politicians, the people who run the system and customers.”

Stuart Duffin, One Family’s Director of Policy, comments: “Budget 2014 needed to deliver opportunities and chances for all our families and in particular those parenting alone. As Enda Kenny says, ‘Work must pay’; but more importantly investment is needed to help families out of persistent poverty. Investment in resources and services will enable that move. If  ‘work is to pay’ we need to look at how an efficient tax system can enable change; for example, Child and After School tax credits, moving FIS to being paid through the pay packet and on a sliding scale.”

Mr Duffin continues: “Budget 2014, despite being an opportunity to reward achievement, has in many ways – such as the ongoing slashing of the earning disregards and the abolition of the in-work One-Parent Family Tax Credit for both caring parents – nurtured perverse economic incentives to engage in the labour market.  The integration of social and economic instruments should be a whole of government effort, to prevent unintended consequences.”

One Family’s assessment:

Notes for Editors:

  • 1 in 4 families with children in Ireland is a one-parent family
  • Over half a million people live in one-parent families in Ireland
  • Almost 1 in 5 children (18.3%) live in a one-parent family (Census 2011)
  • There are over 215,000 one-parent families in Ireland today (25.8% of all families with children; Census 2011)
  • 87,586 of those are currently receiving the One-Parent Family Payment
  • Those living in lone parent households continue to experience the highest rates of deprivation with almost 56% of individuals from these households experiencing one or more forms of deprivation (EU-SILC 2011) 

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

 

Further Information/Scheduling

Shirley Chance, Director of Communications | t: 01 662 9212 or 087 414 8511

 

Public call to give one-parent families an equal chance for economic well-being in Budget 2014

Press Release

(Dublin, Friday 19 July) Today One Family, Ireland’s leading organisation for one-parent families, calls on members of the public to email and connect with their local TDs to demand the implementation of One Family’s “10 Solutions for Smarter Futures,” a series of ten no-nonsense, low or no-cost actions that government must implement to better the lives of the adults and children in one-parent families who continue to experience the highest rates of poverty in Ireland. 2014 is the 20th anniversary of Family Day as proclaimed by the UN – the Irish Government should reflect this by giving one-parent families an equal chance.

There are over 215,000 one-parent families in Ireland today and over half a million people living in one-parent families. One Family calls on each of these families, and everyone who knows a member of a one-parent family, to join in the campaign by emailing their local TD to ensure that all of Ireland’s families can enjoy a higher quality of life.

One Family Director of Policy and Programmes, Stuart Duffin, commented: “The 10 Solutions are all about delivering some of the supports needed to enable lone parents to have Smarter Futures out of poverty, off social assistance and into quality sustainable jobs.  These solutions may not require a lot of money but they do require public services and policy makers to think and behave creatively in order to deliver more appropriate and effective services for their customers and constituents.”

10 Solutions for Smarter Futures is part of One Family’s Strategy 2013-2015, launched last month on the 28th.  These solutions are focused on improving the well-being of Ireland’s one parent families, and they are changes that will benefit everyone. Just over 87,000 people are in receipt of the One-Parent Family Payment (OFP).  Mr. Duffin explains: “The new Jobseekers Allowance payment, which responds to our call for Flexibilities, is designed to allow former recipients of OFP whose youngest child is under 14 years of age to avail  of Minister Burton’s activation services to return to work, education or training. The implementation of 10 Solutions for Smarter Futures would make a real difference for lone parents as they move into the workplace, education and/or training as the solutions fully recognise the particular difficulties that can be faced by those parenting alone such as lack of child care and long-term absence from the labour market.”

Mr. Duffin commented further: “To help some of the poorest children in Ireland have a better life, please champion and advocate for 10 Solutions.

One Family’s Number 1 solution is:

Flexibilities: allow lone parents who are moving to Jobseeker’s Allowance to seek only part-time work during the school term in order to assist lone parents who have a child with a disability or lack of access to childcare or are coping with a bereavement or separation.

Others include: solution 5 – Responsive Learning; solution 6 – Progression Opportunities; solution 10 – Poverty and Parent Proofing.

Members of the public are invited to visit www.onefamily.ie to learn more about 10 Solutions for Smarter Futures and to add their voices to the campaign by availing of the facility there to email their TDs. For additional information, they may also email: solut10ns@onefamily.ie.

Notes for Editors:

  • 1 in 4 families with children in Ireland is a one-parent family
  • Over half a million people live in one-parent families in Ireland
  • Almost 1 in 5 children (18.3%) live in a one-parent family (Census 2011)
  • There are over 215,000 one-parent families in Ireland today (25.8% of all families with children; Census 2011)
  • 87,586 of those are currently receiving the One-Parent Family Payment.
  • Those living in lone parent households continue to experience the highest rates of deprivation with almost 56% of individuals from these households experiencing one or more forms of deprivation (EU-SILC 2011).
  • The full 10 Solutions for Smarter Futures document is available to read here.
  • Twitter #10Solutions

 

About One Family

One Family was founded in 1972 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 experiencing an unplanned pregnancy and to those 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 622 212, counselling, and provision of training courses for parents and for professionals. One Family also promotes Family Day, an annual celebration of the diversity of families in Ireland today, with almost 10,000 people attending events this year on 19 May (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

 

Further Information/Scheduling

Shirley Chance, Director of Communications | t: 01 662 9212 or 087 414 8511

 

New Jobseekers’ Transition arrangement: For lone parents work is now more of a possibility

Press Release

For lone parents work is now more of a possibility

(Dublin, 21 May 2013) Today, Minister Burton, listening and responding to One Family’s Ten Solutions campaign is presenting to Cabinet a progressive reform which will allow lone parents who are on social welfare to seek part-time work rather than full-time when they are moved to Jobseekers Allowance through a new arrangement called Jobseeker’s Transition.

One Family’s Director of Policy and Programmes, Stuart Duffin explains: ‘We have been advocating for this progressive reform since Budget 2012. All our evidence suggests that lone parents often need to access jobs with relatively short hours when returning to employment. Lone parents value working in part time-jobs as a way of balancing labour-market participation with caring responsibilities.’

He continues: ‘A part-time job acts as a ‘stepping-stone’ into working longer hours. There are good reasons for believing that any experience of work is likely to improve future chances of employment – particularly for lone parents who have spent long periods out of work. ‘For those parenting alone, whose primary responsibility and duty of care is to their child(ren), progressive activation which encourage employment efforts by acknowledging and responding to the needs and supports around childcare, personal and career development are very welcome.’

Karen Kiernan, One Family CEO explains: ‘One Family has been calling for a series of flexibilities in relation to the compulsory activation of lone parents in line with other jurisdictions due to the unique family and parenting responsibilities they face. Given the relatively poor provision of accessible and affordable out of school care in Ireland, these flexibilities are a must and we are pleased that Minister Burton has responded to the concerns of our members and clients on this critical issue.’

Duffin further highlights: ‘As part of this reform One Family looks forward to working with Government to provide meaningful engagement and tailored support for those moving back into the labour market and or education to secure a new future for families and children while helping to safeguard parenting responsibilities. Our New Futures programme has been specifically designed to delivery on this welfare to work policy.

Kiernan warns: ‘One Family will be closely monitoring how this policy is implemented in practice to ensure that parents are not compromised and that the number of part-time hours required under the new transition scheme will be achievable for parents.’

Find out more about One Family’s 10 Solutions campaign here: http://bit.ly/15KsorZ  #10Solutions

Press

Available for comment:

Stuart Duffin, Director Policy & Programmes, One Family | t: 087 062 2023

Karen Kiernan, CEO of One Family | t: 086 850 9191

For further information or scheduling, please contact:

Shirley Chance for One Family | t: 087 414 8511 | e: schance@onefamily.ie

No More Punishment for one-parent families

No More Punishment for one-parent families – Smart Steps to equity

in Budget 2013

Media Release, Thursday 11 October 2012

Launching their solution-focused  plan to ensure income security for lone parents, Karen Kiernan, Director of One Family, Ireland’s leading organisation for one-parent families says ‘There can be absolutely no more cuts or changes aimed at lone parents in Budget 2013. They are still reeling from the cuts in last year’s budget which saw the poorest families and children becoming even poorer as a direct result of the ill-thought out changes. As a service provider, over the last year we have witnessed how such changes caused untold hardship to one-parent families, many of whom were already struggling, and further distanced lone parents from the labour market.’

One Family calls for the Government to take an equity approach to Budget 2013, addressing the need for a tailored income support system which would ensure a basic level of income security for lone parents so that everyone, regardless of circumstance, can live with dignity in Irish society.

Stuart Duffin, One Family Welfare to Work Manager explains, ‘We are asking Government and Minister Burton to listen to and reflect on the necessary steps, which include reversing some of the negative changes and introducing new positive ones.’

Here is a summary of the Smart Steps:

  • Introduce flexibilities into the Jobseeker’s Allowance system:  during school hours, lone parents should only be required to be available to work part-time rather than full-time.
  • Provide accessible, affordable and quality childcare.
  • Provide mechanisms for accessible specialised bridging and skill development programmes that reflect and respond to the complex needs of one-parent families.
  • Build and deliver a responsive Labour Market Agreement Plan that creates a bridging link between training and future employment of those parenting alone.
  • Commit to a gradual repurposing of the €500 million given to private landlords annually into the establishment of a sustainable social housing stock, beginning with an initial assessment of NAMA assets.
  • Promote and deliver in-work (tax) credits, in-work assistance and tackle the backlog of Family Income Support to ensure that ‘work pays and assistance works’.
  • Acknowledge that consistent and persistent child poverty is a concern in Ireland and prioritise that Budget 2013 adjustments have a duty of care to ensure social protection for those who are vulnerable.

Stuart Duffin concludes, ‘The best way forward is to set the foundation for a sustained recovery through strategic investments in our social safety net. Currently, the system is unfair and traps lone parents in poverty and unemployment. If our advice is not followed, any more piece-meal changes will do little more than transform an awful system into a bad one.’

For the full Ten Solutions Campaign click here

For the full One Family Pre Budget Submission click here

Ends

For more information contact:

Hilary Fennell, Communications Manager, One Family  T: 01 662 9212  M: 087 2359515

Stuart Duffin, Welfare to Work Manager, One Family T: 01 662 9212 M: 087-0622023

 

One Family supports Welfare reform

Media Release, Weds 29 August 2012

In response to today’s news that the EU has warned Government that it needs to reform our welfare system, One Family, Ireland’s leading organisation for one-parent families, welcomes the broad recommendations and in particular the broadening of the tax base.

Stuart Duffin, One Family Welfare to Work Manager explains, ‘Despite what the economists might say, the jobs recovery has not yet begun. Low-income people, particularly those parenting alone, are facing two significant challenges. The first is simply keeping their heads above water, as they struggle to cover their rent or mortgage, to meet the continually rising costs of energy, to cover the costs of transportation, of putting food on the table and of educating their children, all during a period of high unemployment and few sustainable labour market opportunities. The second challenge is how to develop the skills necessary to participate in any economic recovery and to be capable of benefiting from future economic growth.’

Any successful poverty reduction strategy for Ireland must include a new approach to social assistance programmes that recognises these challenges.  The Irish Government needs an overall vision for social assistance. Its adoption of poverty reduction as a goal in social policy must be echoed by creating a 21st century income security system, with underlying principles recognizing diversity through creating equity, treating people with dignity and respect, enhancing social and economic inclusion and eradicating poverty traps.

Duffin continues, ‘One Family’s Ten Solutions are all about delivering some of the supports needed to enable those parenting alone to have better futures out of poverty, off social assistance and in quality, sustainable jobs.  A key element of reform will be the Government’s commitment to flexibilities within the system:  for example, lone parents who transition to Jobseeker’s Allowance should not be required to be available for fulltime work but rather for 15 hours per week during school hours. This should mitigate many of the child protection concerns that have arisen around 7 year olds being left on their own. A series of flexibilities or exemptions are required in the UK and many other countries to allow for a lack of childcare, lack of transport, a child with a disability, separation, bereavement, home-schooling and so on.’

Ends

For more information contact Hilary Fennell, Communications Manager, One Family, 01 6629212 / 087 2359515 or  Stuart Duffin, Welfare to Work Manager, 087 0622023

 

Minister Burton considers One Family requirement for lone parents to work part-time

Requirement for lone parents to work part-time is being seriously considered by Minister Burton

Media Release, 2 July 2012

At the launch of One Family’s Annual Review and Graduation, One Family got an opportunity to publicly critique recent cuts aimed at lone parents and Minister Burton got to hear, first hand, stories of triumph over hardship from some of the 150 lone parents who were graduating from One Family Welfare to Work Programmes.

Minister Burton announced that the requirement for lone parents to be required to work part-time, rather than full-time is being seriously considered, if they are moved off the One Parent Family Payment and onto Job Seekers Allowance when their youngest child is seven.

‘This is a positive and necessary move as it is completely unreasonable to expect lone parents to be available for full time work, particularly given the lack of provision of childcare and afterschool care in Ireland,’ says Karen Kiernan, One Family Director.

One Family also used the opportunity to re-iterate the recommendations from its Ten Solutions campaign to the Minister. Ten Solutions are all about delivering some of the supports needed to enable lone parents to have Smarter Futures – to help them out of poverty, off social assistance and into quality, sustainable jobs.  These solutions may not require a lot of money but they do require public services and policy makers to think and behave creatively so that we can deliver more appropriate and effective services.

For the full Ten Solutions see http://www.onefamily.ie/wp-content/uploads/Ten-Solutions-final.pdf

For further information or to arrange an interview with a spokesperson:

Contact Hilary Fennell, Communications Manager, One Family 087 2359515/ 01 6629212

 

Ciara Conway, TD, launches Ten Solutions campaign in Leinster House

One Family launches its Ten Solutions for Smarter Futures for lone parents in Leinster House today

Media Release, 2 May 2012, At today’s launch of ‘One Family – Ten Solutions – Smarter Futures’ campaign, Ciara Conway, TD for Waterford and Vice Chairperson of the Oireachtas Committee on Health, Children and Youth Affairs said, ‘This campaign is a solutions focused approach to Budget 2012. It addresses ten challenges faced by lone parents, and gives us the first concrete steps to take towards delivering services which connect and empower them around education, work and independence. We acknowledge the challenges ahead but are prepared to tackle them and Minister Burton has the determination and will to succeed.’

‘Ten solutions – Smarter Futures’ outlines proposals that will enable Government to help reduce inequality and improve the wellbeing and life chances of those parenting alone. Stuart Duffin, Welfare to Work Manager at One Family, explains, ‘This goal towards a more equal State, where lone parents and their children are better equipped to succeed, has political consensus and increasing public support,’ he continues, ‘we recognise that budgets are strained, which is why we have come up with low-cost or cost-neutral solutions to improving the lives of one-parent families.’

Some of the suggestions in ‘Ten solutions – Smarter Futures’ include:

Flexibilities: lone parents who move to Jobseeker’s Allowance should only be required to work for 15 hours per week during school terms. This would help address many of the child protection concerns around seven year olds being left on their own. Flexibilities also take into account a lack of childcare or transport, having to cope with a child with a disability or with a separation or a bereavement, and so on.

Education and Training: development and promotion of a wide range of part-time, modular education and training from all public providers. A range of programmes need to start later and finish earlier to allow parents to look after their children.

Progression Opportunities: ensure equality of opportunities for lone parents in the work place. Permit One-Parent Family Payment recipients to participate in all activation programmes. Support the promotion and up-skilling of lone parents.

Stuart Duffin continues, ‘‘One Family – Ten Solutions – Smarter Futures’ helps to lay the foundations for a fairer, more equal society, by addressing some of the challenges faced by lone parents and their children. For thirty years, trickle-down economics have divided Ireland by yielding significant wealth for a few, but leaving others by the wayside. There is wide public support for a different way of organising our affairs – this is the Government’s opportunity to deliver on a undertaking that can radically change children’s lives – and to create a welfare to work system which empowers lone parents.’

Ends

For more information contact Hilary Fennell, Communications Manager, One Family, 01 6629212