Fianna Fáil Seanad Group Leader and Seanad Spokesperson on Social Protection, Senator Catherine Ardagh has said that while overall employment figures have reached a 10 year low, those from lower socio-economic backgrounds or living in deprived areas continue to struggle with access to employment.

Speaking on the matter in Seanad Éireann, Senator Ardagh said, “The South Inner City is disproportionately neglected by this Government – countless people continue to live in staggering poverty and deprivation. Not every household is experiencing benefit from a recovering economy.

“The National Economic and Social Council has recently acknowledged that the rate of unemployment remains consistently high in many communities nationwide, particularly in disadvantaged areas.

“The challenges associated with social and economic conditions have risen significantly in the South Inner City in recent years. Therefore, accessing employment is not always simple or straight forward.

“Our focus must then be better placed on removing the barriers restricting those in receipt of social protection payments to make a transition into employment.

She added, “Today’s ERSI report has indicated that changes made by Fine Gael to the One Parent Family Payment have led to income losses of between 1 and 2% for lone parents that are employed. These changes have made employment even more unappealing to lone parents.

“My own area of Dublin 12 has one of the highest affected percentages of lone parents in the country demographically. Where possible, Government should be facilitating and supporting lone parents to take up employment. This is not to say that parenting alone doesn’t warrant additional supports from the State.

“The barriers facing those from lower socio-economic backgrounds and who are eager to enter a workforce must be addressed. If the Government ignore this for any longer then the prospect of meaningful employment will never be a reality for an entire portion of our society. “