Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform Sean Fleming has branded changes to the One Parent Family Payment as “deeply regressive and socially inequitable.”
9,300 lone parents are being removed from the One Parent Family Parent (OPFP) and put on Job Seekers Allowance. 8,000 are being switched over in July while a further 1,300 will be moved off the OPFP over the coming months. The move is happening because Minister Joan Burton changed the age eligibility criteria for the OPFP as of 4th July.
Deputy Fleming explained, “This cut is anti-women, anti-children and anti-family. The Department has confirmed that approximately one third of the lone parents (3,100) who are being moved off the OPFP are in part-time employment. It means that while they could earn up to €110 and keep their OPFP payment, they will now face an impossible choice when moved onto the Job Seekers Allowance, as the rules dictate that if they keep their job they will lose €50 a week from their Job Seekers Allowance.
“This is a sneaky and extremely short-sighted cut that will cause enormous difficulty to thousands of lone parents. The One Parent Family Payment was introduced to help lone parents in difficulty to up-skill and get back into the workforce. By shifting thousands of parents off the scheme, the government is actually forcing many parents to give up their part-time jobs. It makes absolutely no sense. It also comes at the same time as a new tax on maternity benefit, adding to concerns about this government’s anti-family agenda.
“According to a CSO survey of income and living conditions, lone parents in Ireland experience consistent poverty at a rate of 16% compared to 7% for the general population. Over 83,000 people received the One Parent Family Payment in 2012 but the government slashed the funding by 12% this year. The 9,300 being pushed off the scheme this year is simply the beginning. As a result of the change in age eligibility thousands more parents and families with lose the support of their One Parent Family Payment over the next two years. If Minister Burton is under the impression she’s carrying out reform of the social welfare system she is very wrong. This is nothing short of an unfair, unworkable, inequitable cut.”