Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Social Protection Barry Cowen TD has condemned the Government’s decision to target One Parent Families by the back door. Though the changes to criteria and income eligibility, the Government has actually cut welfare payments to one of the most vulnerable sections of society.
Deputy Cowen commented, “The reductions come at a time when One Parent Families are at a significantly higher risk of poverty. The Government is introducing a limit of 7 years of age, compared to the current limit of 14. From next year, the age will be reduced to 12 and by 2014 it will be reduced to 7. This will some of our most vulnerable households exposed to a significant income drop. Further, the income eligibility is being pared back, penalising those single parents, primarily women, who are also trying to work and condemning them to a welfare trap. This is nothing less than a major cutback for those households. Burying it in the detail of the Comprehensive Review of Expenditure is a cynical attempt by the Labour Party to avoid scrutiny on the issue.
“Along with other cuts like the Job Seekers allowance and Fuel Allowance, the government is trying to avoid headline changes while cynically introducing cutbacks through the back door by changing criteria. The reality is far darker however for those directly impacted by these changes.
“The Programme for Government stated that it would “maintain social welfare rates”. It also promised that “Over time, One Parent Family Payment will be replaced with a parental allowance that does not discourage marriage, cohabitation or work”. Separately, during the election, Minister Howlin and his colleagues promised that “Labour will introduce an anti poverty strategy”. Labour Party voters and supporters will read about this attack on One Parent Families and wonder where these promises have gone.
Deputy Cowen concluded, “The measures announced today are highly regressive, placing a disproportionate burden on those who can afford it least. This is in stark contract to the last three highly progressive budget introduced by the last Government.”