Senators Alice-Mary Higgins and Lynn Ruane join Barnardos, One Family and SPARK today to call on the Government to deliver for lone parents in Budget 2019.

Senator Higgins with Geraldine Kelly, Louise Bayliss, June Tinsley and Senator Lynn Ruane
Senator Higgins with Geraldine Kelly, Louise Bayliss, June Tinsley and Senator Lynn Ruane

At a press conference in Dublin today, Senators Higgins and Ruane joined campaigners from Barnardos, One Family and Spark to call on the Government to deliver for lone parents in Budget 2019 in key areas of housing, social welfare and access to employment and education.

Senator Higgins said “Ireland has a history of failing lone parents and their children. That needs to change. The Government has committed to progressing gender and equality proofing in Budget 2019. Delivering for lone parents, the vast majority of whom are women, will be an important test of that commitment.”

“Last year, I contributed to a report by the Oireachtas Committee on Social Protection which provided a comprehensive analysis on the position of lone parents in Ireland. It noted that over half of lone parent families suffered deprivation and that they had the highest consistent poverty rate at 26% of any demographic of the population. Alarmingly, two-thirds of families with children suffering homelessness are headed by lone parents. The report also made a number of practical suggestions to improve supports. These should be implemented in Budget 2019. In particular I will be pressing for access to Job Seekers Transitional Payment for those with a child under 18 as opposed to the current cut-off of 14. This would help give lone parents the flexibility and support to balance work and care.”

Senator Lynn Ruane, a lone parent herself, spoke about the importance of education for lone parents, “Lone Parents are forced to choose between retaining their Jobseekers allowances or accessing a higher level SUSI grant. This makes returning to education effectively impossible for the vast majority of lone parents. Education must not just be seen as a route to employment but also a personal, professional and social development opportunity that should be made equally available all, including lone parents.”

June Tinsley, Head of Advocacy with Barnardos highlighted the impact of the lack of supports has on children in lone parent households, “Child poverty is shamefully high in Ireland despite having a buoyant economy and its affects can last a lifetime. Children living in one parent families are at a far higher risk of consistent poverty and the continued lack of investment in core public services means these children are further denied the opportunity to reach their potential. Budget 2019 can remedy this to ensure the Government’s own target of lifting 90,000 out of consistent poverty by 2020 is achieved.”

Louise Bayliss of SPARK said, “Lone parents and their children are in crisis at the moment. We have a perfect storm with the housing crisis, the most expensive childcare in Europe and the rise in precarious working conditions.  Our families are most likely to live in poverty and experience homelessness. Budget 2019 must address the needs of our families or we will have a generation of children with lost childhoods.”

Karen Kiernan, CEO of One Family remarked, “It is crucial that Government uses the evidence that is available to them in targeting Ireland’s poorest people who are children living in one parent families. Reports have piled up indicating what is needed to be done to address the impacts of austerity and the harsh cuts of Budget 2012. In particular we call for the full restoration of the income disregard for lone parents in receipt of social welfare payments to 2011 levels. In addition, the Working Family Payment discriminates directly against lone parents. The current threshold of 19 hours for this payment can be shared between two working adults in two-parent families, while one-parent families must reach this alone. We call for a 15 hours per week threshold for the Working Family Payment, in recognition of the difficulties lone parents face in balancing caring and working responsibilities.”

ENDS//

Available for interview:

June Tinsley, Head of Advocacy, Barnardos: 01 7080440 or 0879955076

Karen Kiernan, CEO, One Family: 01 662 9212

Louise Bayliss, SPARK: 085 7761267

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