NGO Alliance calls for urgent action in Budget 2022 to loosen poverty’s grip on one parent families
Published: Tuesday, October 05, 2021
The National One Parent Family Alliance (NOPFA) has today called for Budget 2022 to prioritise one parent families. Launching the Alliance’s pre-budget priorities, Chair of the Alliance, Karen Kiernan of One Family said:
“Years of reports, research and evidence has confirmed what we already know from frontline services – One-parent families and their children are the group most at risk of poverty and social exclusion in Ireland today. We are now a week away from Budget day. Now is not the time for half-measures but to act so another generation isn’t lost to poverty. We are not calling for anything radical, but for the Minister to look at the evidence and to act accordingly.”
NOFPA’s ‘Budget 2022 Priorities’ submission contains 5 key asks for government that if acted upon, could result in real change for one parent families in Budget 2022.
Ensure our social protection system recognises the additional caring responsibilities of those parenting alone
Tricia Keilthy, Society of St. Vincent de Paul said: “Lone parents continue to be more at risk of poverty and deprivation and more likely to be in low paying, insecure jobs. These very high levels of poverty have persisted through boom and bust. While recent budgets have tried to unwind previous disastrous cuts, more is needed to recognise the financial and practical challenges of parenting alone. We are calling on government to extend Jobseekers Transition Payment to parents in work, education or training until their youngest child reaches the end of second level education in acknowledgement that lone parents caring responsibilities do not end when a child turns 14”.
Guarantee early years and childcare policies supports the needs of children in one parent families
“NOPFA calls for investment over a series of budgets to deliver a public model of early years care and education with free childcare for children in one parent families and disadvantaged circumstances” continued Sandra McCullagh of the National Women’s Council. “However, there is action that can be taken in this year’s Budget - An additional allocation of hours under the National Childcare Scheme would acknowledge the challenges a lone parent faces. In addition, parental leave assumes a two-parent family as the norm and so lone parents do not have the same level of support under the scheme as two parent families and this needs to be rectified”
Recognise and respond effectively to the heightened risk of homelessness and housing insecurity experienced by one parent families
One parent families are disproportionately impacted by the housing crisis, according to Louise Bayliss of Focus Ireland: “We know that one parent families are more likely to experience homelessness, are at a significant disadvantage when it comes to affordability issues and are more vulnerable to housing quality problems such as damp and lack of central heating. Homelessness is devastating for families – it causes trauma and can do life-long damage to the health and well-being of children and parents. Budget 2022 must recognise the unique needs of one parent families and include targeted and real measures to help them. We are calling for the establishment of a specific taskforce to review the impact of housing insecurity on one parent families and develop appropriate solutions”.
Reduce child poverty by decoupling child maintenance from social protection payments
“Structural issues in our child maintenance system are leaving one parent families at greater risk of poverty and we are eagerly awaiting the recommendations of the Child Maintenance Review Group”, continued Louise Bayliss. “However, changes can be made now to how the Department of Social Protection (DSP) treats child maintenance which would increase its poverty reduction impact. Child Maintenance should be fully decoupled from social protection payments and be treated as a non-means-tested, non-taxable income for children, as with Child Benefit, to support one parent families out of poverty.”
Provide sustainable routes out of poverty by facilitating access to education and training
“Lone parents face multiple barriers to accessing education and worryingly, lone parents’ participation in education has actually decreased in recent years”, continued Tricia Keilthy. The SUSI grant scheme is an integral support but restrictions in accessing it exclude many lone parents. We are calling for SUSI to be made available to all lone parents engaging in education regardless of the age of their youngest child, irrespective of their housing tenure or whether they are studying part time or full time so that lone parents can be truly supported to access further education”
About the National One Parent Family Alliance
The National One Parent Family Alliance comprises nine national organisations including Barnardos, Children’s Rights Alliance, One Family, FLAC, Focus Ireland, National Women’s Council, Society of St. Vincent de Paul, SPARK, and Treoir. This Alliance was established in 2020 in response to the unequal impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on one-parent families and a shared concern about the high levels of poverty experienced by lone parents and their children.