Lone parent hardship was avoidable and needs swift action. Cuts in income must be reversed and new opportunities provided. ‘Back to School period adds to stress facing families’
Statement by Senator Katherine Zappone:
The hardships now being experienced by lone parent families following social welfare changes were predicted and must immediately be addressed, according to Independent Senator and Dublin South West Election Candidate, Katherine Zappone.
Confirmation of a 50% jump in calls to the helplines of the One Family Organisation to 2,000 is an indication of the fear and uncertainty caused by the Government’s actions, according to the Senator.
Senator Zappone said the fact that falls in income of up to €90 a week for lone parents were predicted makes the current situation both frustrating and unacceptable.
Calling on the Government to immediately address the fall-out of the welfare changes, Senator Zappone added:
“It is unacceptable that in our local communities there are families seriously out of pocket and struggling to put bread on the table since the welfare changes for lone parents came into force at the end of June.
The figures from the One Family Organisation unfortunately confirm that those of us who predicted that the impact would be harsh and in some cases devastating were correct.
It is time now for the Government to take swift action to reverse the impact of the welfare changes. Immediate measures which must be taken include:
- establishing a special working group as a matter of urgency to include lone parent representatives, civil society as well as TDs and Senators which can contribute to preparations for the Autumn budget.
- restoring income levels by immediately resetting the Income Disregard level for the Job Seekers Transition Allowance to that of the One-Parent Family Allowance
- giving those families impacted by the new changes priority in accessing quality childcare, including the provision of a special allowance when the only option is a private service"
Senator Zappone continued:
“This back to school period is the most difficult for all families and it is wrong to let so many in our community literally struggling to make ends meet because of the Government’s failure to see the consequences of its actions.
While reversing the drop in income is a priority, the changes have also reduced access to training, education and jobs so that these families can boost their household budget and that too must be addressed.
Earlier this year I was proud to host a Civic Forum for lone parent families in Leinster House and it has also produced more wide-ranging measures which I will continue to press for from the resumption of the Oireachtas in the coming weeks.”