Friday 24 January 2020

Lone-parent allowance will be cut despite Burton row

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

THE Government is still bringing forward legislation to halt payments to lone parents when their child reaches the age of seven despite a 'home-alone' row prompted by Social Protection Minister Joan Burton.

Around 92,000 parents -- almost all of them women -- receive the lone-parent allowance until their child reaches the age of either 14 or 18. But in two years' time, new lone parents will have their payments stopped when their child reaches the age of seven.

Ms Burton had said the previous day that she would not implement the change in her own bill unless she got a "credible and bankable commitment" in the forthcoming Budget that a comprehensive childcare system would be put in place for the children of lone parents.

In the Dail yesterday, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore was forced to insist that no child would be left on their own without childcare in the wake of Ms Burton's remarks.

Clear

But Mr Gilmore made it clear that the lone-parent changes in the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill were still going ahead.

"I repeat that there is a change -- it is being done gradually -- to the payment of the lone-parent allowance. It will be coupled with the provision of childcare," he said.

A cross-departmental working group was set up last January to investigate how many childcare places would be required for children of lone parents and how much this would cost. Its work is ongoing.

But the changes in the current bill mean that lone parents with children born in 2008 will lose their current weekly payments of €188 per week -- plus a further €29.80 for each additional qualified child -- in 2015. And other lone parents who have children aged seven to 18 in 2015 will also lose the payments. The State currently spends €1.1bn per year on the "one family payment".

Lone parents and their children continue to experience the highest rates of 'consistent poverty' in the country.

Irish Independent

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