Lone parents respond to Budget 2011
December 8, 2011 – it has been almost 24 hours since Budget 2011 was announced.
It is fair to say that since OPEN was founded in 1994 by 8 local lone parent groups, lone parents have never reacted so angrily to a Budget announcement. Online and on radio and television stations, lone parents are frustrated and concerned.
There are 3 things which have really angered our families.
No comfort to cushion the blow:
58% of lone parents have one child. Those with 1 child who survive on social welfare received cuts yesterday totaling €530 next year. This includes a €10 per month reduction in child benefit which was not compensated to families on weekly social welfare payments as was the case this year. So there was no attempt to soften the blow for the families who will really feel the impact of this cut. 65% of children in poverty in Ireland are growing up in one-parent families – these changes will have a huge and lasting impact on those children.
No comfort from the cold:
The government has made no change to the fuel allowance payment. Last year they promised to provide poor families with a voucher or other payment to compensate them for the carbon levy. There has been no compensation and to make matters worse, as part of the 4 year plan, our government has committed to doubling the levy with no commitment to help those in poverty to cope. Yesterday families who receive Fuel Allowance (€20 per week from September – April) were told they would get a one-off payment of €40 to cover costs associated with the current cold spell – this is actually an insult to these families.
No comfort for their futures:
In spite of repeated promises to protect the poorest, the government in fact confirmed yesterday that these savage cuts will be repeated in the next three budgets. This has caused widespread concern among low income families who have genuine fears about the futures of their already hard-pressed families.
As well as these announced changes, OPEN is really concerned about the proposed €1 cut to the hourly minimum wage. This will drive down the wages of all of those on low incomes and create a climate where the reduction of basic social welfare payments will in future be deemed as vital to ‘make work pay’. It will not create one job. For lone parents who are desperate to become economically independent, this cut will add hugely to their sense of despair. A low minimum wage will halt their progress and a cycle of dependence on state payments and supports will become more vicious and difficult to break. It is an act of economic and social vandalism. We can never trust again empty promises to ‘protect the vulnerable’ if our Dail votes to cut the National Minimum Wage.