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 also 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 69% of individuals from these households experiencing one or more forms of deprivation (EU-SILC 2010). 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.