'Lone parents cuts have forced me to give up working' - mum

Michelle McFarland and daughter Ashleigh

Laura Larkin

SINGLE mum Michelle McFarland has been forced to give up her job following the cuts to the lone parent payments.

The changes, which came into effect this month, mean that around 30,000 one-parent families have been moved to two different types of payments.

A single parent with a child aged between seven and 14 must sign on to the newly introduced jobseeker's transitional allowance, while a single parent with a child older than 14 must sign on to the traditional jobseeker's allowance.


People who are working in part-time jobs for less than 19 hours a week do not qualify for the Family Income Supplement, meaning that some are down up to €140-per-week.

Ms McFarland is one of those who is losing the most.

The Celbridge, Co Kildare, resident has three children, but her youngest, Ashleigh (14), is her only dependent child.

Until this month she worked as a cleaner in her daughter's school, where she was earning around €178 per week after tax.

This income was bolstered by her lone parent's allowance of €175-per-week.

"I've been left with no choice but to leave my job. I'm financially better off on the dole," she explained.

"I would have preferred to continue working. You go to work to keep yourself sane."

Now that she will receive a jobseeker's allowance payment of €217 per week, the mum of three is left some €136 short every week.

"My mood is getting lower every day. I'm on the verge of tears constantly," she revealed.

"I can't afford to do anything nice with my daughter this summer and I'm already worried about how I'll cope when it comes to back-to-school time.

"It's going to start impacting on her mental health too."

In a recent Dáil speech, Labour TD Joanna Tuffy defended the cuts to the social welfare payments.

"It is not desirable that people should be cleaning in a school for 10 hours per week for the rest of their lives," she said.


"Such people will be assisted by the department under these changes to be given more hours or a better job and to receive any education and training they need."

Ms McFarland said she felt "disrespected and disgusted" by Ms Tuffy's comments.

"I am highly trained as a youth worker," she added.

"But I'm trained for nothing because there are no jobs out there that are suitable for me.

"I feel like they are not taking into account the reality of home situations for many families.

"If I were to go out and get full-time work tomorrow, what am I supposed to do with my 14-year-old? It's an appalling way to treat people."