One parent family cuts

MARY HANAFIN, the Minster for Social and Family Affairs, has raised a proposal to attack the One Parent Family Payment (OFP). She is arguing for a change in the allowance that’s paid to lone parents by stopping the payment once a child reaches thirteen. Recent figures show that almost 18% of lone parent families are in “consistent poverty” while 37% are “at risk of poverty”. If introduced, this cutback would further impoverish tens of thousands of lone parents whose children are above the age of thirteen. The majority of lone parents work and, as it is now, these workers can only earn up to €146.50 before their OFP payment is reduced – if their income goes above €425 (hardly a princely sum) the payment is cut off altogether. Many of these workers, who are already struggling to make ends meet will be badly affected by the proposed cut which would see them suffer a dramatic fall in income. 
Capping the payment at 13 would also be an indirect economic attack on the teenage children of lone parents. As the above figures show, it’s working class young people who will suffer most – yet another example of how many of the government’s recent cuts are systematically punishing working class young people in particular.
Minister Hanafin has claimed that her proposed cutback would help end the “dependency” of these lone parents on state assistance. During the boom, it was the uninviting prospect of low wages and the unaffordability of childcare that has forced some unemployed lone parents to become dependent on this payment. Now that capitalism has bankrupted the economy, the government wants to forcefully encourage some unemployed lone parents onto the jobs market – what jobs are there now? Even if some low-paid jobs do become available, these lone parents will not benefit – it is only the government’s best friends the employers, who will benefit.
If the government was serious about getting one parent families out of poverty and off benefits, then they would provide a comprehensive state childcare system. If they were serious then, they wouldn’t be introducing cuts in funding to community services that lone parents depend on for education, training and creche facilities. No one wants to be on benefits but the alternative of a decent well paid job with the back up of affordable or state funded childcare just isn’t on offer for most lone parents.