Single parent families still struggling following Budget 2017 - Kathleen Funchion TD
Speaking today on the Social Welfare Bill 2016 Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Childcare Kathleen Funchion said that single parents and approximately 2,400 children were still struggling following announcements made in Budget 2017
Deputy Funchion said;
“Sinn Féin advocated for an equality proofed Budget and that was reflected in the proposals we made in our Alternative Budget 2017.
“We said from the start that fairness needed to be at the heart of the Budget. We argued that any fiscal improvements needed to be seized upon by the Government and used to reduce the cost of living for people, while at the same time investing in proper public services.
“While the Budget announced in October had a few tokenistic gestures included, it did very little to tackle head on the status quo of our state’s ongoing crises.
“The increase to the One Parent Family Payment for lone parents from 90 euros to 110 from January 2017 is welcome, but the overall negative impact of Budget 2017 on lone parents, many of whom are on the poverty line, must be acknowledged.
“We know that lone parent families are the poorest in this state. We also know that the consistent poverty rate is 7.9% for children in 2 parent families but rises to almost 3 times higher at 22.1% for children in one parent families. These children and families are in particular need of assistance. We in Sinn Féin proposed to raise the cut off age of the One Parent Family Payment to 12 years and increase the Earnings Disregard to 120 euros.
“Government while increasing the payment to 110 euros, kept the cut off age at 7 years of age which completely ignores the barriers faced by lone parents trying to access work. The decision also refuses to acknowledge that any 10, 11, and 12 year old child, as any parent will know, is no less a child than a 7 year old - If anything, the cost to provide for a child rises as the child grows in age.
“Low pay and precarious work have become an undeniable part of our labour market. Unemployment among our Youth continues to be at high levels. The €5 increase for Jobseeker payments is only for those aged 26 years and over. We know that those aged 18-24 years of age will receive an increase of €2.70 with those aged 25 years receiving an increase of €3.80. This is in no way provides any relief for our young unemployed people who are struggling to survive with increasing living costs year on year.
“The Bill’s commitment to increase School Meals funding to €47.7 million in 2017 which will see 50,000 extra children to benefit is welcomed. This cannot distract, however, from the fact that 2,426 children are homeless right now.
“We have been told by child advocates and agencies that Budget 2017 won't make much of a dent in the atrociously high child poverty figures and were particularly disappointed by the education budget decisions which will do little to help struggling families.”