Child poverty will continue to rise despite budget increase, single parent says

The challenges faced by single parents will not be remedied by an extra 15 euro per week, it has been claimed.

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe announced on Tuesday that the social welfare package allocated by the government will increase by 690 million euro next year.

The Living Alone allowance will increase by five euro and the One Parent Family payment will go up by 15 euro, which restore the credit back to 2012 levels.

However, mother-of-one Leah Speight, 41, from Dublin, says the 15 euro, although welcome, does not go far enough.

“We’re talking about the budget for 2020, eight years since the budget that cut everything, and particularly hurt single parents,” she said.

“Of the recommendations that were given to the minister’s own committee, and proposals made by Barnardo’s, one was to extend the Jobseekers Transition payment up to 18, or reduce the working family payment from 19 hours to 15 hours, none of these were considered.

“15 euro to reverse what was done is mealy-mouthed and nothing that I can see that could dramatically improve working family parents trying to get back to work.

“If someone’s youngest child is aged 14, they’re excluded from those payments, and research shows that teenagers are the group most at risk of poverty, anyone with a child over the age of 14 won’t receive any benefit.

“Time and time again, it grabs the attention of the media, 15 euro looks good, but if you look at the detail, I’m not saying I don’t welcome it, but there are specific areas they should be looking at to avoid further child poverty.”

In 2016, there were 218,817 family units with children headed by a lone parent, an increase of more than 3,500 families since 2011.

The new National Childcare Scheme has also come under fire from lone parents; the loss of targeted schemes like the Childcare Employment and Training Support (CETS) scheme, which meant lone parents in higher education or skills training courses could qualify for a subsidised childcare place, has been deemed a severe loss.

The scheme is income-based and does not incorporate a needs assessment, meaning that a couple will receive the same subsidy as a lone parent on the same income.

Lynn Ruane
Lynn Ruane felt the budget did not offer much help for single parents (Niall Carson/PA)

“This just offers consistent poverty traps, I’m so disappointed to see the budget today, to see no change to the National Childcare Scheme, knowing that lone parents are going to be excluded seems bizarre and counter-productive,” Ms Speight added.

Senator Lynn Ruane, likewise, felt the budget did not offer much help for lone parents.

“A two or three euro increase dependent on the age of your children, there’s nothing in there in terms of really supporting families,” she said.

“I’m really underwhelmed by the education spend too, if you look at capitation grants, there’s no increase there either, parents will still end up footing the burden through voluntary contributions if capitation is not increased, so that’s another example of parents not being considered in the budget.”

The Capitation Grant is paid to primary and voluntary secondary schools and is based on the number of recognised pupils enrolled in the school.

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