Fianna Fáil Press Office
Cllr Catherine Ardagh
Dublin South Central
26 January 2016
Fine Gael and Labour’s policies have led to more childhood poverty – Ardagh
Fianna Fáil candidate for Dublin South Central Cllr Catherine Ardagh has accused the Government of abandoning those most at risk and maintains that their policies have led to more social deprivation.
“A recent survey on living conditions revealed that households with one adult and one or more children had the highest deprivation rate at 58.7%. This issue is of great concern in Dublin South Central which has a high percentage of Lone Parents existing in very difficult circumstances.
“In Government Fine Gael and Labour’s regressive budgets have led to an increase in child poverty and deprivation. Their policies have benefitted the better off to the detriment of children, one of the most vulnerable groups in society. Fine Gael and Labour have introduced a series of punitive measures that directly affected lone parents and their children. These measures include reducing the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance, reducing Child Benefit, reducing the number of weeks the Fuel Allowance is paid.
“One of the cruellest and most unfair decisions taken by Minister Joan Burton was the change to the One Parent Family Payment. Let us remember that the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection in the Dáil on the 18th of April said when introducing the second stage of the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill:
‘I entirely agree that seven is too young for anyone to seriously contemplate any of these things without there being a system of safe, affordable and accessible child care in place, similar to what is found in the Scandinavian countries to whose systems of social protection we aspire. That is why I am undertaking tonight that I will only proceed with the measures to reduce the upper age limit to seven years in the event that I get a credible and bankable commitment on the delivery of such a system of child care by the time of this year’s budget’ (In a speech given by the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection in the Dáil 18th April 2012).
“This commitment was not delivered on and the Tánaiste persisted with the changes to the One Parent Family Payment despite the fact that our childcare system does not resemble anything like the Scandinavian childcare system. It is just another example of another broken promise.
“Under this Government children have suffered immensely. Overall, 11% or 1 in 9 children are in consistent poverty; however the rate of consistent poverty for lone parent households is 22%, while the rate of deprivation is almost 59%. This is this Minister’s legacy of her time as Social Protection Minister.
“Poverty and social exclusion affects children in a multitude of ways, affecting health and education outcomes and limiting future life chances. The scale of child poverty in Ireland is appalling and is directly related to the harsh and punitive measures pursued by the FG/Labour Government.
“If elected Fianna Fáil propose to increase the maximum child age of the one-parent family payment (OFP) scheme from its current threshold of seven years to twelve. We will then seek to extend this to 14. We believe in protecting, not punishing lone parents and their children. We are committed to creating a fairer society and a recovery that is felt by all sections of society.