The Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) welcome the opportunity to make a submission to the Child Maintenance Review Group. As the largest charity of social concern in Ireland we work to provide practical assistance to those experiencing financial hardship. We work to address the root causes of poverty through our policy and advocacy work.
Last year we received over 170,000 requests for assistance. Almost 70% of those requests were from families with children. The majority of which were headed by a mother parenting alone. As the group most at risk of poverty in Ireland today, lone parents and their children represent the largest group assisted by SVP. In our experience the main driver of poverty among one parent families are inadequate social welfare payments, precarious and low paid work, unaffordable childcare, housing costs and insecurity.
We also see how the ineffective system of child maintenance in Ireland leaves children in poverty. And the onus on the custodial parent to pursue maintenance through the courts causes significant stress and strain for resident parents. We also see how this system can also cause problems for low-income non-resident parents. Who may cut back on basics like food and heating to make maintenance payments. It is from this perspective that we make this submission to the Child Maintenance Review Group.