Wicklow families face huge losses from this week with cuts to maternity benefit and one parent family payments kicking in.
Greystones Fianna Fáil Representative Taragh Hanley has described the cuts as “regressive” and says they “demonstrate an anti-women, anti-family agenda by Fine Gael and Labour.”
“The cut for new mothers comes in the form of a tax on maternity benefit and amounts to losses of around €2,700 a year while Fine Gael and Labour also cut the one parent family payment in December’s budget and both measures are only kicking in now.
“Effectively, the government is dismantling vital supports available for parents. Three successive cuts by this government will mean that in just two years time one parent families will only receive the financial support until their youngest child reaches the age of 7. This means many young parents with teenage children have suddenly lost their allowance from this month on.
“These are mean-spirited attacks on working mothers and prove Fine Gael and Labour latest Budget is anti-family and anti-women.
“The changes to maternity benefit mean working mothers could face paying tax of up to €2,700 a year on their maternity benefit, essentially reducing the benefits by up to €100 a week in many cases. At a time when young families are being squeezed from every angle with hikes in household bills, cuts in state supports, reductions in local services, expensive childcare bills, their property taxes set to double next year and water charges coming down the line, this is yet another cut that they simply cannot afford.
“Maternity benefit and the One Parent Family Payment were established as a support to working families and a recognition of the important role that mothers play in Irish life. It is extremely mean to cut these modest supports women receive.
“What many people will also find extremely difficult to understand is the reductions in the amount of money lone parents are able to make in part-time work before their payment is cut-off. This is actually discouraging women from entering the work place or forcing women who are already in part-time employment to give up their jobs to retain the payment.
“Of course we need to take difficult steps to get the economy back on track. But this is about decisions, and it seems that it is ordinary families who are being targeted time and time again. Families need to be given some breathing space to keep their heads above water and unfortunately this government’s budgetary strategy is not delivering that.”