Single parents likely to be hit most in December’s budget as government targets cuts
SINGLE parents are likely to be the hardest hit by tax rises and spending cuts in the forthcoming Budget, it has been warned.
Independent think-tank Tasc found in a report on the impact of last year's Budget that lone parents lost 5pc of their income, compared with married couples with children who lost just 1.3pc.
The group called for the Government to ensure vulnerable people, such as single mothers and fathers who were found to be the country's lowest earners, are protected in the new Budget.
Tasc head of policy Sinead Pentony said: "Inequality played a central role in causing the global crisis, and closing the equality gap - in the first instance by protecting those on low incomes - will not only enhance the wellbeing of individuals, but will also help boost demand in the economy."
Single men with no dependants earning between €15,070 and €19,059 also fared badly as a result of last year's Budget, losing 4.25pc of their annual income.
The report claimed much of this was down to the lowering of the personal and PAYE tax credits and the introduction of the 7pc Universal Service Charge rate on annual earnings above €16,500.
Nat O'Connor, director of the think-tank, said an equality audit should be carried out as part of the budgetary process in order to do this.
"Our findings show that low income groups lost proportionately more than higher income groups as a result of the tax and social welfare measures in Budget 2011, and that lone parents were particularly hard hit," she said.
Among that group, which is most at risk of poverty, 73pc were women and 27pc were men.
Ms O'Connor added: "It is crucial that a comprehensive distributional analysis be carried out by the Department of Finance in advance of every Budget to ensure that vulnerable groups are not the losers as a result of budgetary measures."
Budget 2012 will be announced on December 6.
Finance Minister Michael Noonan revealed in the Government's medium-term fiscal statement that an adjustment of €3.8bn would be made in order to meet targets for the country's deficit.
This would include €2.2bn saved through public expenditure cuts and €1.6bn on tax hikes, such as VAT and excise duties.
Tasc said the Government runs the risk of putting single parent households at risk of poverty if it imposes cuts to essential public services because they are least able to absorb the burden of adjustment.
The 7,207 households sampled in the report included singles, lone parents, married couples with just one earner and married couples with two incomes.