Tuesday 22 August 2017

Budget 2016 - The single parent: 'Single parents aren’t being greedy. We are starving for success'

'Single parents aren’t being greedy. We are starving for success'

David Kearns

A young single mother who spent almost a year homeless says Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton should be leading by example and encouraging women and single parents to succeed.

Amanda Varian (31) from Mayfield in County Cork believes that single parents are “starving for success” and just need opportunities and reassurances in the upcoming Budget to do so.

“In the ideal world you would get employment when your child is in school but most of us don’t get to choose our own working hours,” says Ms Varian, who believes a significant cut in the cost of childcare would benefit single parent families immensely.

“There’s a woman out there representing this country, Joan Burton. She knows what it is to succeed and should be encouraging others to do the same.

“But she has been pulling the reins in the wrong areas. Taking a person’s dignity, their confidence, is no better than walking all over them.

“Joan should be leading by example and showing that there are different ways to do things.”

Ms Varian told Independent.ie that she believes that a balance must be struck in the upcoming Budget that will allow single parents to go out and work and not have to worry about losing their benefits because they are bringing in money.

“Single parents aren’t being greedy – we just need help. We are starving for success.

“Give us the chance to get up the ladder before you take away our benefits, a foothold isn’t enough.

“So you get that part time job and earn that extra €90 you’re entitled to. But your hours are outside school time, so you’ve got to pay for childcare and suddenly you’re not earning an extra €90 a week.

“But what if you earn more than €90? You’re benefits are cut, so you’ve got to work more hours, meaning more childcare, leading to less money coming in despite you working more.

“And then you’re working more, so you’re rent allowance for example gets cut, forcing you to work more hours to make up the difference.

“It just because a viscous cycle of working to cover the cuts and then having to pay to cover the increased hours you’re working.

“Someone can go out and get a full-time job tomorrow. Doing so, they lost all their benefits, their medical card, their rent allowance. But what happens when they lose that job in three months – where are they then?

“What about all those single parents were it doesn’t make sense to work? I volunteer at three different jobs to help get experience for the job I want.

“If I go out and work and bring in wage, I’m not benefiting because I’m spending so much on childcare.

“I get more from volunteering than I do from working full-time. That’s a broken system.”

Ms Varian admits there are those out there “quite happy” to collect their social welfare and sit on the couch, but she says that this minority should not impact on those wanting to work.

“This kind of scheme doesn’t have to be forever, even if it was reviewed every six months it would be even support to encourage people to work.

“If you’re working full-time, you’re signing off social welfare. That’s a step every single parent wants to take. Gives us a hand to do so, that little bit of balance that will allows us to go out and make a wage. 

“Reduce the childcare costs so that we can build up an income. Bring in safeguards to reassure people that they wouldn’t be punished if they earn a living wage.”

The 31-year said single parents were more inclined to be brought into the “world of poverty” than any other household, and that this was something that should be tackled in the 2016 Budget.

“If there are two parents in a house, there are two chances of having an income coming in. In a single parent home, that social welfare payment might be the only source of income coming in.

“Housing is also a major factor. I know from my own experience it is a hard road getting back into employment and housing, in finding stability to get things back to normal.

“Any cut to lone parent or child benefit will be felt – it makes no sense to target the most vulnerable. Not when you want to encourage them to succeed.”

Video by Jason Kennedy

Online Editors

Also in Business