Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Public Expenditure Seán Fleming has revealed that cuts to one parent families will take effect from as early as next week, as parents of children aged 12 and older will no longer qualify for the one parent family payment. In a further move, the qualifying age will be reduced to exclude children aged 10 and over from 1st of January next.
Deputy Fleming alerted the Dáil to what he described as the ‘sneaky cuts’ this evening and accused the Social Protection Minister Joan Burton of ‘a con job’ in relation to cuts to one parent families.
Deputy Fleming explained, “Until now parents had no idea that the Government wants to implement an immediate cut to the one parent family payment for new applicants. The entire focus to date has been on the Budget decision to reduce the upper age limit to 7 years from 2014. This has disguised the fact that from next Thursday when Social Welfare Bill becomes law, new applicants for the one parent family payment will not qualify if their child is aged 12 years or older. In addition to this, in just seven months time the qualifying age will be reduced to 10 years.
“For instance, if a family finds themselves in a changing situation where one parent dies, the surviving parent will not qualify for one lone parent support from next week on if their youngest child is aged 12 or over, or from next January on if their child is aged over 10.
“This is a disgraceful slight of hand and I cannot understand how the Labour Party can stand by it, never mind lead it. It is quite clear that we are seeing the beginning of a scaling back of the one parent family payment at the hands of the Fine Gael/Labour coalition. If Minister Burton seriously believes that reducing the qualifying age to 7 was the wrong decision, why is she keeping this cut in the legislation and asking Oireachtas members to vote in favour of it?
“I am asking the Minister to confirm that she meant to implement cuts to one parent families from next week on. If not, if this is just another mistake, it must be rectified immediately before the legislation is passed. If it was her intention, I would ask her to think again.”