Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Employment Affairs and Social Protection Willie O’Dea TD has said that changes introduced by Fine Gael and Labour during the last Government hindered rather than helped lone parents.

O’Dea made his comments on foot of a report from the ESRI which showed that changes to the One Parent Family Payment resulted in small income losses of between 1 and 2 per cent for employed lone parents compared to the benefits previously available. The net result of these changes has been to make employment less attractive to lone parents.

“The changes made to the One Parent Family Payment by Fine Gael and Labour during the last Government had a negative impact on lone parents. The reality is that it was the wrong policy at the wrong time and it was introduced when there were insufficient childcare supports in place.

“Lone parents and their children continue to be particularly vulnerable to poverty and social exclusion; 24.6 % of lone parents are in consistent poverty whilst 50.1% of lone parent households are experiencing deprivation.

“Fianna Fáil wants of course to facilitate and support lone parents to take up employment where possible, but we also want and will push for a more flexible social welfare system that recognises that lone parents are parenting alone and need additional supports.

“If we don’t address the many barriers facing lone parent households they will always be at the margins of society and this is simply unacceptable. The Government must now learn from reports such as this and introduce changes and increase supports that will have a positive impact on lone parents and their children,” concluded O’Dea.