By Fiona O’Loughlin
From July 30,000 lone parents will no longer qualify for One Parent Family Allowance with many losing up to €80 per week as they are switched to Jobseekers Allowance.
Stigmatising lone parents
Burton and Co are spinning this cut as some kind of charitable feminist gesture to encourage women back into the workforce .The implication being that women don’t really want to work and would much prefer to sit at home all day cleaning or watching Judge Judy on their flat screen TV’s while chatting to their equally lazy friends on their smart phone. The question women are asking Joan is” where are the jobs that will pay enough to cover my childcare costs or have the flexibility to allow me care for my children after school and for the 12 weeks school holidays?”
The high costs of childcare
The much heralded Swedish model of childcare promised by Minister Burton has failed to materialise instead the handful of community crèches have had their budgets slashed, breakfast clubs in DEIS schools have been cut as have after school community based homework clubs in socially disadvantaged areas. The lack of affordable childcare combined with low wages is the main reason why women have to stay at home rather than laziness or an instinctive love of cleaning.
According to the OECD Ireland still has the highest costs for child care in the EU, across the EU the cost of childcare is 12% of family income in Ireland it is 35%.What is needed is a state run affordable child care system with proper pay and conditions for the workers. This would give women access to the workforce, education and training.
A Thatcherite measure
This is nothing but a Thatcherite attack on one of the most vulnerable sections of society. One in four families with children is headed by a lone parent. Women make up 87% of lone parents nationally and 98% of claimants for One Parent Family Allowance. 70,000 children live in consistent poverty, children in a family headed by lone parent or a disabled parent are at greatest risk. Lone Parent families have already borne the brunt of austerity with cuts to the Back to School Clothing Allowance, Child Benefit, Rent Allowance, the increase in the cut off part timers to name a few. The spin from the Labour Party that they have protected core payments is meaningless when you have less in your purse at the end of every week. This cut must be immediately reversed with a plan to have a proper affordable childcare system in place.