Senator Zappone recalls the necessity of redressing cuts to lone parent payment (video)


Senator Zappone calls for the urgent review of the cuts to the One-Parent Family Payment.  The Senator remarked on the unfairness of the fact that tenacious protests by lone parents and many House Members have fallen on deaf ears.  As detailed previously in the Civic Forum's Report on One-Parent Families, Senator Zappone argued that the low-paid, low-quality jobs of the parents affected are simply not sufficient to lift them out of poverty and that the cuts will have drastic effects on these families.  The Senator demanded that a special working group, comprised mostly of lone parents themselves, is established immediately to redress the issues, particularly in light of the commencing budget process. Watch the video or read her full speech below.

So, the day has finally come. What shall we call it - One Parent Family Day, or Children's Day?  Perhaps a more apt description would be Jobseekers' Day. As we are all aware, today is the day thousands of lone parents throughout Ireland, most of whom are women, will find their payment to support themselves and their families has been cut. It will be cut because their youngest child is seven and because they are working part-time but less than 19 hours a week. These people have jobs, but those low-paid, low-quality jobs are not in any way lifting them out of poverty. The Government says the cuts and changes are going through so lone parents can get a job and no longer be poor, but we have evidence to the contrary. It just does not work that way. In fact, I am getting reports from some lone parents today that the new cut payment is not in their bank accounts yet. Can the Cathaoirleach imagine how they must feel? Even the bureaucracy appears to be getting it wrong and it is causing distress.

My first question to the Leader is whether he can confirm that all lone parents will get their payment today and explain why it is not there now. Many Members in both Houses protested vehemently against the cuts as recently as last night, but our voices have fallen on deaf ears. More importantly, lone parents have also protested vehemently against the cuts. What I find hardest to take is the Government's deafness to their voices.

The Government has told us for the last four years that it is about reform of this and that. A reform of politics that would make a most significant difference to how we do our business would be to listen and have a dialogue with our citizens, especially those who are affected directly by what we do in these Houses. Yesterday, I published findings from a civic forum that I held in Leinster House, attended by more than 30 lone parents, at which we debated what changes they wanted to see so that they and their children might have an equal chance to flourish in Ireland. With its publication, I call on Government to immediately establish a special working group with a predominance of lone parents and their representatives to review the cuts and conditions in one-parent family policies and to feed their recommendations into budget preparations, beginning with the national economic dialogue that will be held later this month.

That brings me to my other question. Who is being invited by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy Brendan Howlin, to the national economic dialogue? The Minister has said that every Government has a duty to engage with its citizens and that he is committed to ensuring the process is as open and inclusive as possible. Will the Government invite some lone parents to the dialogue? Are any Members of the Seanad being invited? I would love to attend.

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