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Lone parents no longer required to prove efforts to seek maintenance for social welfare supports welcome - Claire Kerrane TD

1 February, 2023 - by Claire Kerrane TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Social Protection, Claire Kerrane TD, has welcomed the Minister's confirmation that, in practice, her Department is no longer requiring lone parents applying for supports, such as the One Parent Family Payment, to show that they have made efforts to seek maintenance from the other parent.

The Minister confirmed this when questioned by Teachta Kerrane at Committee this morning.

Deputy Kerrane added, however, that there now needs to be necessary legislation to remove the use of child maintenance as means, and called for the implementation of all Child Maintenance Review Group recommendations without any further delay.

Teachta Kerrane said:

"I have repeatedly made the case for reform when it comes to child maintenance and its treatment when it comes to social welfare supports in particular.

"I welcomed the recommendations made by the Child Maintenance Review Group specifically, the removal of child maintenance from the means test for social welfare supports, and an end to lone parents being obliged to show that they have sought maintenance from the other parent as a condition to access and retain social welfare supports.

"It should never have been the case that child maintenance was treated as household means when it is income towards rearing children. Lone parents should never have been put in the position of having to seek maintenance from a former partner as a condition to access social welfare supports. 

“This was very wrong and the Review Group reinforced this in their report.

"I welcome that the Department of Social Protection is being proactive in not insisting on lone parents having to prove efforts to seek maintenance, however, urgency is needed to implement the remaining Review Group recommendations.

"We also need to see the necessary legislation to remove the use of child maintenance as means urgently. Disappointingly, the Minister could not provide a timeline for this legislation when I asked her about it at Committee this morning.

"We need to see this legislation and the implementation of all recommendations without any further delay. Lone parents have already suffered under these policy decisions for far too long when it comes to accessing critical financial supports. 

“The Minister also needs to examine the establishment of a Child Maintenance Service as we have long called for and published policy on on three occasions."

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