Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Social Protection Deputy Willie O’Dea has said that Minister Varadkar’s plans to ‘reform and recalibrate’ welfare to work schemes are destined to fail unless the issue of affordable, quality childcare is addressed.
Commenting on the issue Deputy O’Dea said: ‘Minister Varadkar’s plans to move people from welfare to work are all well and good, but unless Minister Zappone delivers on providing affordable and quality childcare these plans will not work.
“Furthermore, the Government’s proposals will place serious pressure on parents, particularly lone parents, placing many of them in a difficult situation where have no choice but to take up a job even though they do not have access to affordable childcare. This situation is not only unfair, it is deeply damaging to parents and their children.”
‘We have already witnessed the negative impact that the reforms to the One Parent Family Payment have had on lone parents and their children,” added O’Dea.
“Fianna Fáil strongly opposed these reforms and has consistently voted against them. The Government implemented anyway with scant regard for the damaging effects they would have on lone parents and their children.”
“Indeed, The Society of St. Vincent De Paul in their Pre-Budget submission said that the main impact of these reforms: ‘have been to reduce the income of lone parents in employment; and to reduce the likelihood of lone parents who are not in employment, education or training to take up work or education in the near future’.”
“With this in mind, it’s incumbent upon Minister Varadkar to put the brakes on his plans until affordable, quality childcare is put in place.”
“Minister Zappone, as the Minister for Children, must also resist these proposals, and not let them go ahead until she can deliver the childcare services that parents need to help them participate in the labour market,” said O’Dea.
“The Minister has a responsibility to children, and their welfare must be her top priority.”
“Workforce activation measures and sufficient quality, childcare supports must go hand in hand. I, and my party, will strongly resist any plans to activate parents, and push them into the workforce, without appropriate childcare services being put in place.”
“The shameful mistake made in relation to with the One Parent Family Payment cannot be allowed to be repeated,” concluded O’Dea.