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Cuts to lone parents mean spirited and counterproductive - Ó Snodaigh

16 June, 2010 - by Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD

Speaking today outside Leinster House at a picket against new cuts in Social Welfare to lone parents and in advance of speaking on the The Social Welfare Bill later this evening, Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Social and Family Affairs Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD said that the proposed cuts were a counterproductive penny pinching measure and called for the scrapping of the Bill altogether.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

"The Social Welfare Bill is mean spirited, nasty and counterproductive. Minister Mean Éamon Ó Cuív wants to rob the food from the mouths of growing teenagers.

“This Bill isn't an anti-poverty measure. It’s the opposite. It’s an unscrupulous penny pinching measure. This Bill isn't about shifting people off welfare and into paid employment because the job, education and training opportunities simply don't and won't exist, on the basis of current government policy. It's about shifting lone parents off one welfare payment and onto another less flexible, less supportive and unsuitable payment.

“This will also have severe and counterproductive consequences for lone parent claimants who are in low paid part-time employment.

“As a result of this Bill lone parents with teenage children who work in low paid jobs while their children are in school could see their incomes fall by over €100 per week. Those who have their hours cut, which is very common in recessionary times, could see their incomes drop by almost €250 per week.

“I am calling on ‘Minister Mean’ and his Fianna Fáil friends Ministers Greedy, Stingy and Muddle to withdraw and scrap the Bill." ENDS

note to editor:
The following information is from the National Womens Council of Ireland -
The rules for the OFP only consider the amount of earnings a lone parent has, not how many days a week they work. In contrast, a person cannot claim Jobseekers Allowance if they are employed for more than 3 days a week, regardless of how little they earn.
To take a concrete example - a lone parent with one child who works in retail, earning the minimum wage, and working 20 hours a week, 4 hours a day over 5 days. Currently this lone parent is entitled to €218.30 One Parent Family Payment (OFP) and €68.82 Family Income Supplement (FIS), bringing their total net weekly income to €515.31. Under the proposed changes, this parent will not be entitled to claim Jobseekers Allowance (JA). They will be entitled to a higher FIS payment - €199.80 - but this will still leave them at a loss: their total net income will be €413.28, a weekly loss of €102.03.
However, many workers in the retail sector and other low paid service positions report that their hours have been cut during the recession, meaning that many no longer get enough hours to be entitled to a FIS payment. For lone parent families in this situation, the proposals may force their withdrawal from employment entirely.
Currently, a lone parent working for 15 hours a week, over 5 days, and earning the NMW of €8.65 a week is not entitled to FIS, but they can claim OFP of €225.80, giving them a total net income of €410.74. Under the new proposals, this lone parent would not be entitled to any weekly social welfare payment, leaving them with a net income of €164.37 to survive on. This is more than €130 below the threshold at which the household is at risk of poverty, and represents a loss of €246.37 on the current provisions.

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