Press release – National One Parent Family Alliance
One-Parent Families Must Be Prioritised in Budget 2024
Wednesday 12th July 2023
The National One Parent Family Alliance (NOPFA)an alliance of civil society organisations concerned about the high levels of poverty experienced by lone parents and their children is calling on Government to urgently prioritise one-parent families in Budget 2024. The alliance will hold a pre-Budget briefing with media and political representatives to highlight their concerns and ‘asks’ for lone parent families on Wednesday 12th July between 10 am – 1 pm in Buswells Hotel.
The alliance which includes Barnardos, Children’s Rights Alliance, One Family, Family Resource Centre National Forum, FLAC, Focus Ireland, National Women’s Council, Society of St. Vincent de Paul, SPARK, and Treoir have prepared a Pre-Budget Submission stressing the need to prioritise supports for one parent families in Budget 2024.
The key asks are:
- An increase of €10 per week for children under 12 and €15 per week for children over 12 is needed to retain the purchasing power of the Qualified Child Payment and make real progress on tackling child poverty.
- In recognition of the income cliff when the youngest child reaches 14, extend Jobseekers Transition Payment to parents in work, education or training until their youngest child finishes second-level education.
- Make the Fuel Allowance payable to families in receipt of the Working Family Payment as a targeted measure to reach more families experiencing energy poverty. Estimated cost: €40.6 million
- Extend entitlement of the Living Alone Allowance and Household Benefits package to one parent families in recognition that they rely on a single long term social welfare payment and are at a much greater risk of poverty and income inadequacy than two adult households.
- The Housing Income Disregard was introduced in 1997 at a rate of £75 (€95.23) and it has not increased since then and it does not reflect current housing costs. Families are at increased risk of homelessness at the time of relationship breakdown, and an increase in the Housing Income Disregard in line with actual market costs would support families to remain in the family home.
NOPFA says these measures are well-targeted and will make a real difference in the lives of thousands of children. Importantly, it will help achieve the Taoiseach’s ambition of making a sustained impact on the number of children growing up in poverty – the majority of whom are living in one parent families – during his term.
Orla O’Connor, Director of the National Women’s Council said “Lone parents, the vast majority of whom are women, are one of the groups most at risk of poverty in Ireland today. In Budget 2024, government must support one-parent families by raising social welfare rates so that they provide a Minimum Essential Standard of Living, and by investing in vital public services. This includes a further 25% reduction in childcare costs in 2024, in tandem with the development of a public childcare model to enhance accessible, affordable, quality childcare for families. Government cannot outrun the cost-of-living with tax cuts for higher earners – these will reinforce inequalities for women and will not help one-parent families”.
Louise Bayliss, Campaign Coordinator with Focus Ireland said “We are concerned with the disproportionate increase of family homelessness among lone parent households. Focus Ireland have previously called for a task force to examine the causes and solutions for homelessness among lone-parent households. The monthly homelessness figures now evidence the urgent need for this task force.”
Damien Peelo, CEO of Treoir said: “From the calls to our information service, we hear of the real daily struggle many one-parent families have to cope with due to inadequate financial support and we are calling on targeted financial supports for one-parent families to ensure their children have a realistic chance to break the cycle of poverty.”
Karen Kiernan, CEO of One Family said, “We know from our frontline services and helpline that parents are struggling to keep their heads above water this summer. The theme of the summer for many is stress, stress to keep food on the table, and stress to keep a roof over children’s heads. Short-term measures keep the waters out for a week or two but then parents are back trying to plug gaps. One-parent families need targeted support in this Budget. Short-term and universal measures leave the poorest children in the state even poorer in the long-term.”
Suzanne Connolly, Chief Executive at Barnardos said, “almost 40% of the children Barnardos supports are living in one-parent families. As a society, it is unfair and unjust that children in these families are often at the greatest risk of being pulled into deprivation. We know from our services that the cost of living crisis has disproportionately increased financial pressures on lone parents. The Government needs to act in Budget 2024 to better protect children living in these families, introducing targeted supports that will help their immediate health and wellbeing as well as their future development and opportunities.”
The lack of permanent, adequate, and targeted measures in Budget 2023 has left families vulnerable to hardship and Budget 2024 needs to ensure lone-parent families are supported.
Analysis from the Vincentian MESL Research Centre shows one parent household cases continue to demonstrate the greatest depth of income adequacy compared to equivalent two-parent household cases. The MESL analysis has consistently identified older children as having additional and different needs distinct from younger children. The core MESL cost is highest for older children, aged 12 and over, at €149.05 per week. Only 61.5% of this need is met by social welfare payments, leaving a weekly shortfall of €57.42 per week. Budget 2024 must address this income inadequacy to reduce child poverty and deprivation.
Since the ending of the eviction ban, family homelessness has increased by 131 homeless families, but more shockingly, lone parents make up 72% of the increase. In the last year, family homelessness increased by 30%. However, lone parents experienced a much higher increase of 38%, compared to a 20% increase for other families. It is clear lone parent households should be identified as an at-risk group and a task force should be immediately set up to support families at risk of homelessness.
Members of NOPFA will be available for comment on the day.
Notes to editors:
- The National One Parent Family Alliance comprises ten national organisations including Barnardos, Children’s Rights Alliance, One Family, Family Resource Centre National Forum, FLAC, Focus Ireland, National Women’s Council, Society of St. Vincent de Paul, SPARK, and Treoir. This Alliance was established in 2020 around a shared concern about the high levels of poverty experienced by lone parents and their children.
- Children in one parent families are four times more likely to experience poverty than children in two-parent families. Prior to the cost of living increases, 17% of one-parent families lived in consistent poverty, 45% were experiencing enforced deprivation and almost 80% were unable to afford an unexpected expense. Despite making up only 20% of families in Ireland, one parent families account for 56% of homeless families. (EU SILC, 2022)
To read the NOPFA Pre-Budget Submission click here: